Through straightforward, engaging, and accessible literacy programs, the nonprofit Kigali Reading Center will offer children in Kigali, Rwanda, the opportunity to increase their English skills and embrace the challenges of an ever-changing world.
We believe that education is the most powerful tool for social change and the shaping of the individual. Literacy increased our odds of success. Through the Kigali Reading Center, we hope to give back to the different communities in Kigali-Rwanda by providing the same opportunity that for both of us began by discovering the joy of reading. Both Wade and Parfait are proof of what education can afford individuals, communities and societies as a whole.
English is one of Rwanda’s official languages, the language of higher education and business. A workforce fluent in English is a key component to realizing Rwanda’s national economic goal to become a hub of business and technology in Africa. On an individual basis, English proficiency opens up education and employment opportunities, a way to break the cycle of poverty. Yet for children whose parents cannot afford to send their children to private Kindergarten, they do not begin learning the language until age seven. In addition, Rwanda has experienced difficulties in finding adequate foreign and domestic instructors to teach English. In 2009, out of Rwanda’s 31,000 primary school teachers, only 4,700 were trained in English, and out of Rwanda’s 12,000 secondary school teachers, only 600 were trained in English.
The Kigali Reading Center will encourage English language literacy for pre-elementary and elementary school students in Kigali, Rwanda, by fostering one-on-one tutoring relationships and increasing access to engaging books, all free of charge for the children of Kigali who need it most. The KRC will provide the following free activities for the children of Kigali:
One of the simplest ways of engaging pre-readers is the act of reading aloud. Weekly group story time, open to all in the community, will be a time for adults and children to enjoy stories together while improving their English comprehension skills.
There is currently only one public library available in Rwanda, and many children in Kigali do not have access to quality English-language books. The KRC will compile an informal lending library of books that will be available for all in the community to borrow and enjoy.
Our vision is to create a safe, nurturing space where students can learn English side-by-side with volunteer adult mentors on a weekly basis. The KRC will partner with schools in Kigali to identify students who could most benefit from these services.
This effort is being led by a pair of University of Massachusetts-Boston graduate students, who have both overcome adversity in their lives thanks to educational opportunities. A group of dedicated volunteers has already secured substantial commitments from the City of Kigali to donate a space where the program will be based; professionals in Rwanda to serve as volunteer tutors and program coordinators; and students at the University of Massachusetts Boston to raise funds and awareness. Over 2,000 books have already been collected and shipped to Rwanda in support of this effort.