By Betsy Dickey, Ready for Reading Founder and Executive Director
The Rwinkwavu community in eastern Rwanda gathered on February 7th to celebrate the ground-breaking of the Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Center. The Ready for Reading Initiative (RfR) is building the 775-square-meter facility in collaboration with Partners In Health (PIH), the Ministry of Sports and Culture, the local government and the community of Rwinkwavu.
RfR believes that the Center represents the educational component of a holistic prototype for rural development: health care + education + economic opportunity. The nearby Rwinkwavu District Hospital began providing access to high-quality health care in 2005. In addition, the hospital has employed hundreds of local villagers as hospital staff and community health workers, spurring the growth of other industries around the hospital and beginning an economic transformation in the community. As these new businesses develop, the need for language and computer literacy is more important than ever. The attainment of these skills will offer individuals the ability to achieve sustainable economic development. The Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Center will work to increase literacy, provide access to information, and develop a culture of reading in Rwanda.
Scheduled to be completed in approximately one year, the new Center will house many books for children and adults in languages including: Kinyarwanda, Swahili, English and French. The facility will also offer classes in Kinyarwanda literacy, English as a foreign language, and basic computer skills. In addition, PIH will use the facility to conduct educational programming on community health issues. As the central gathering place for the community, the Center will provide ample space for cultural activities including dance, music, drama, and movie nights, and will afford patrons a comfortable place to relax and read.
At the ground-breaking event, Emmanuel Bugingo, Acting Director of the National Library and Public Reading for the Ministry of Sports and Culture, encouraged Rwinkwavu residents “to come to this Center and make use of it.” He went on to say that the Center is in line with the government’s plans to educate people, to increase their knowledge, and encourage them to read for pleasure.
Many Partners In Health staff were on hand to mark the day as well. Dr. Peter Drobac, Rwanda Country Director for PIH, spoke about the connection between health and education as the foundations of prosperity. “Once people are healthy they ask, ‘Now what? How am I going to have a brighter future?’ The answer is, education,” he said.
The Rwandan Government has implemented many countrywide positive changes in the education system in the past few years. The Center will expand on these efforts by offering all segments of the population in Rwinkwavu the opportunity to improve literacy and have access to global information.
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