More Children are Learning and Reading at Home with Parents and Community Support
On June 15th, 2020, Bonifride Nyirahabimfura is sitting with her children, Japhet Nkundimana and Aristide Byiringiro, to follow a Kinyarwanda radio lesson. The children attend the GS Shyorongi Reading Club, in Shyorongi Sector, Rulindo District.
Save the Children, in collaboration with its Mureke Dusome activity and Rwanda Education Board, distributed solar-powered radios to ensure economically vulnerable families without devices can access radio lessons delivered by REB. A few weeks earlier, Bonafride Nyirahabimfura and her family received a radio. This initiative enabled more children to benefit from distance learning through radio and TV lessons. To date, Save the Children has distributed 950 radios to families thus supporting children to continue learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and related disruptions.
“The radio we received has helped me to follow radio lessons at home,” said Aristide, a P3 student at GS Shyorongi.
“Now I am studying a lot from my home, and I have improved my knowledge. I am confident that when school reopens, I will be able to hit the ground running,” added the 9-year-old.
Aristide’s family did not own a radio before. As that has changed now, Japhet and his sibling say it has encouraged their mother to support their learning at home by regularly following the radio lesson schedule, helping them to revise lessons and doing exercises together.
“I am comfortable with Kinyarwanda and French; thus I support my children especially during Kinyarwanda radio lessons,” attests Bonifride.
Bonifride adds that she ensures that she gets the information related to radio lessons and communicates it to her two children.
Literacy Champions, school officials and local officials are coordinating to provide accurate and succinct information about radio and TV lessons and are also sharing strategies and availing reading materials for parents to support their children to learn and read at home.
Dismas Iribanje is a Mureke Dusome Literacy Champion in Rulindo District. He says he conducts regular home visits to parents of children attending the GS Rukingu Reading Club to mobilize them to keep supporting their children’s reading at home while respecting social distancing as advised by local administration authorities.
“We discuss with parents and offer practical tips on how to support children to read and learn at home. We have also been lending books to families whose children attend the GS Rukingu Reading Club. Children have not stopped reading at home,” said Dismas.
Schools Avail Books to Read
The Mureke Dusome Literacy Champion says that when reading materials became scarcer, he approached a neighboring school which is now lending them books.
Book lending is coordinated at the school level. At GS Rukingu library, Etienne Munyakazi, a parent to a P3 child, is also borrowing books.
“I am borrowing books for my child because during this confinement period, he will use them to follow radio lessons especially during the Kinyarwanda and math lessons and English exercise time,” says Etienne.
“The first support to my children was to buy a radio set for them. During lesson time, we give him space, a room without noise, for him to effectively follow the lesson. Then, we help them to do exercises and check if they have done it properly,” he adds.
In Rulindo District, there is a coordinated effort to share information on ways parents can support their children to learn and read at home.
At the national level, Mureke Dusome is coordinating a Soma Rwanda effort to support REB by conducting a parents’ awareness raising campaign on radio and TV in the form of Public Service Announcements (PSAs), radio programs, and a live TV talk show. Some parents have received practical tips from this media campaign.
“On radio, REB sensitized us to support children to learn at home,” says Dismas.
He adds, “Moreover, GS Rukingu has been sending us SMS of the radio lessons schedules.”
Where schedules are not sent via SMS, the district encourages schools to print and display them on a billboard as recommended by REB for either parents or students to come and consult.
Furthermore, the district has instructed local leaders to leverage various information sharing channels to communicate ways parents can support their children’s learning at home. Such mobilization is conducted in the market and in villages with community announcements over megaphone. At Isibo (10-15 families in the village) level, leaders initiate such discussions with families.
Despite the fact that some families do not have radio sets as reported by a Head Teacher in Rulindo, education officials recognize the efforts made to have radio lessons and note that children who are able to access educational programs are proud to review lessons.