Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond

Rwanda National Literacy Month 2020

In an effort to develop and foster a culture of reading among children and adults in Rwanda, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) launched Soma Rwanda in 2012 through the Rwanda Education Board (REB), in cooperation with development partners. Soma Rwanda ( strives to foster synergies among stakeholders by providing a holistic, coordinated platform for information sharing, networking, and promotion of activities and initiatives. By design, Soma Rwanda is not an implementation body itself, but rather a knowledge platform and a coordination forum that brings together many stakeholders with a common purpose – promoting literacy and strengthening the culture of reading throughout Rwanda. Today, Soma Rwanda has over 200 members representing community libraries, the book sector, NGOs and civil society, formal education, MINEDUC, Ministry of Youth and Culture (MYCULTURE), and others.

More than fifty years ago, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially proclaimed September 8 International Literacy Day, to mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies. International Literacy Day is now celebrated worldwide, including in Rwanda. Rwanda’s Ministry of Education, with support from the Soma Rwanda Steering Committee, extended the celebration from a single day to the entire month of September. During Rwanda’s National Literacy Month, members of Soma Rwanda organize literacy promotion activities throughout the country.

In 2020, a webinar, a social media campaign, and other activities were organized to recognize International Literacy Day on September 8.  Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and to avoid overlap with school reopening, the Hon. Minister of State in Charge of Youth and Culture and the Hon. Minister of State in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education launched National Literacy Month on September 21st in a TV and radio talk show. The virtual launch also featured the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC). 

Throughout the month, members of Soma Rwanda organized literacy promotion activities including writing competitions, read aloud challenges, literacy events, literacy talk shows through local TV and radio stations, and the launch of a community library. In collaboration with MYCULTURE and MINEDUC, Soma Rwanda organized a virtual National Literacy Month closing event on October 21. The 2020 National Literacy Month celebration was a component of Rwanda’s National Reading Campaign that was launched in February 2020.

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