Rwanda is a small landlocked country in east-central Africa. The country has seen rapid development since the genocide in 1994, during which an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by predominantly Hutu militia.
Improvements in infrastructure, health services and education have stabilised the country and a vision of Rwanda as a service economy and technology hub has emerged. However, many have not felt the benefit of this development and around 45% of the population, in both urban and rural areas, still lives on less than $1.25 a day.
Why we work in Rwanda
A key aspect of Rwanda’s vision for the future is the role of English. In 2008 English replaced French as the medium of instruction in schools from primary 4 and in 2009 Rwanda joined the Anglophone East African Community. Thus in a very short space of time English became not only the vehicle for delivering education and development but also key to a role for Rwanda on the regional and international stage.
However, while efforts are being made to encourage literacy in English as well as in the national language Kinyarwanda levels of English remain relatively low, particularly outside Kigali. This is partly due to the fact that access to books in English beyond the core textbooks in schools is extremely limited, with few bookshops and limited purchasing power among most Rwandans. The country also lacks a network of public libraries which might help more people access books.
In this, an informal network of community libraries has been established across the country. These libraries play a vital role in making books available to all who want to read or need access to information, as well as offering many vital community services. Yet most of these libraries are run by volunteers and lack the resources to purchase the books they need.
What we do in Rwanda
We partner with libraries and NGOs across Rwanda to support literacy and access to books and information in the community and in schools. In 2017, we sent an initial consignment of 29,857 books to Rwanda to be distributed to all the organisations we support.
Supporting public and community libraries
We are partnering with Kigali Public Library and with NGO Grace Rwanda, with NGO Ready for Reading in Rwinkwavu and with a number of church and community-run NGOs to support the development of dynamic libraries across the country, providing an invaluable resource to their community.
Books for education
We are supporting VSO and other education NGOs by providing high quality children’s books in English to help deliver their initiatives in early literacy.
We are providing books to the University of Rwanda to help stock their new campus library with key undergraduate texts, as well as supporting a number of medical training colleges.
*Source: Rwandan government
** Source: World Bank