Literacy and libraries

Connecting the school community

That safe space and help in learning English have benefited over 40 participating Kabwende teachers this year alone. Onesphore Bagirishya, who teaches English at Kabwende for P6 (similar to Grade 6 in the United States), has been a teacher for 20 years and has taught at Kabwende since 2004.

“The reason why I like using English, because most of my friends are from foreign countries and speak English,” Bagirishya said. “Also, I have the ambition of training my students to speak English because the English language is all around the world.”

Even Kabwende headmaster Clement Nkuriyingoma has participated in the English language training. When Books and Beyond started at his school in 2008, the headmaster didn’t speak English.

A large group of students sites in front of their school building.

“If you compare the school from the first day here to 10 years, for me, it’s very important because the Books and Beyond program has helped our school, and helped me, more than anyone,” Nkuriyingoma said. “Training the teachers in English is very helpful, and the library has helped our learners. Our students and teachers read more books, and they know the benefit of knowledge through their books.”

For Courtney and Dlamini, the work is far from done; it continues through resource outreach and correspondence with the Kabwende teachers.

“In talking with a lot of people, Rwanda is becoming a literacy model for Africa, which is interesting to really see how quickly something can grow,” Courtney said. ”From an educator’s perspective, this is exciting because I think the challenges that we still have to overcome can really mirror the growth and the expediency that I see in the country.”

Kabwende students and teachers they look forward to the work to come.

“We will prepare the good future, the good student, the good teacher, the good leaders of our country,” Nkuriyingoma said.

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