On February 22nd Rwanda joined the world in celebrating International Mother Language Day, with an event at the EP Kamashashi School in Kicukiro District.
The event featured the handover of Kinyarwanda storybooks and bookshelves for classrooms, supplied by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Soma Umenye project.
Attending the event was the Ministry of Education’s Minister of State in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education, the USAID Mission Director, the Mayor of Kicukiro District, and representatives from the Rwanda Education Board.
Throughout 2018, USAID Soma Umenye will support the Ministry of Education in distributing storybooks in Kinyarwanda and bookshelves to every single lower primary classroom across Rwanda.
At the event participants emphasized the importance of Kinyarwanda literacy for every student’s academic success, and praised the progress being made in Rwanda.
Worldwide research shows that children learn to read faster and better in the first language they speak and understand.
The USAID Mission Director Leslie Marbury reaffirmed the US government’s support for improving literacy in Kinyarwanda.
“USAID will continue to work with the Government of Rwanda to ensure that students achieve literacy in Kinyarwanda in the early grades of primary school. The future workforce of Rwanda depends on the foundational skills that these children are learning today,” she said.
Isaac Munyakazi, the Minister of State in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education, praised everyone involved in preserving Kinyarwanda as a mother tongue, especially USAID’s work through Soma Umenye and other projects.
“The Rwandan Ministry of Education is happy to collaborate with USAID to strengthen the capacity of the education system in Rwanda by implementing and supporting high-quality, evidence-based reading instruction throughout the country, enabling quality Kinyarwanda reading instruction to be an integral part of our children’s education,” he said.
International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual observation held on 21 February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and promote multilingualism.
The day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in November 1999.
The 2018 international theme is “Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development” while the national theme is “Let’s preserve Kinyarwanda while protecting its authenticity and quality.”