Rwanda has a history of intense political and ethnic violence that still impacts the country today — in 1994 the genocide against the Tutsi was turmoil and tragedy to Rwanda. Youth were manipulated and used to kill people and destroy infrastructures. While primary education is free and mandatory, the change in national language from French to English has created a learning gap for many children in the country. Thus, in addition to providing a space for the development of a culture of reading and peace, the libraries also provide the opportunity for children to increase their exposure to English, which will benefit them in their school studies.
The long-term impact of the Children’s Peace Libraries is to promote sustainable peace and a culture of reading among children in Rwanda who participate in the programs at our three libraries (Kigali, Gicumbi, and Kanzenze).
The children who have visited the library have begun to realize the real benefits of reading and have been empowered by their newfound skills in English literacy. With their new confidence they have become very eager readers who find true enjoyment in the library and have embraced a culture of reading. The staff has encouraged this confidence further by implementing new strategies to improve students’ English and encourage them to use it.
The librarians are always trying to learn new ways to improve the program. The staff is working with the children, with school Headmasters, and with the local government in order to exchange knowledge. The librarians are always looking for new strategies to improve the culture of reading and peace.
The staff is working to increase the number of books in their collection. The Coordinator of Libraries has been discussing this with the other libraries new strategies and innovation to improve this. In this period, the Coordinator used SMS, email, and phone to communicate with other staff to understand what’s going well in the libraries and what they can do to improve the libraries.
Part of the Libraries work is to sponsor a peer mediation program. As a result the culture of peace has increased in the schools. The students who have completed the training are considered ambassadors for peace by their headmasters and teachers. Peace clubs have started in some schools. Students are solving conflicts in their schools:
My name is UWINANA Clarisse. I am a member of UMUHUZA Club of G.S Kicukiro. In August I saw two neighbor girls fighting over a doll. I stopped them and asked them to sit down and tell me what happened. I asked them to speak the truth. Finally, one girl gave the other the doll and all was forgiven.
My Name is UWINEZA Carine, on 12 May 2018 , two students from my school were in fighting in the classroom. I asked them to stop fighting. we sat-down together and I asked them to discuss what happened. The problem was a stolen pen. The truth came out and the pen was returned to the owner.
Parents and Teachers find that the Library plays a big role helping students with their studies. As they said in their testimonies.
KAYONGA Diane, a parent comments about the improvement she sees in her two children as a result of attending the libraries. “The Peace Library helps our children know how to read because there are great knowledge in the books and also help them to be good in languages, they learn many new words in English or even to well-read the Kinyarwanda language.”
Braise, one of the Library teachers says: “As we have this library in our place, Peace Library, it has very great services, it is a chance and even great opportunity to many, because the children find where they can get knowledge. My request is that this good Library’s to be established in all corners of the country to improve our community”