eKitabu Tunaenda Digital Newsletter April 2022

Dear Friends,

From 7th April for one week, Rwanda commemorates the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Rwandan colleagues have flexibility in this time for activities in their community or family. We wish for all colleagues peace, comfort and the commitment to rebuild a better world.

In Rwanda as in many places, the lack of accessible teaching and learning materials for learners with disabilities is often a barrier to inclusive and equitable quality education. Rwanda has 60 inclusive model schools and more than 50 special needs schools and centers across all 30 districts countrywide. The majority of special needs schools are religious founded and government-aided. In schools, access to teaching and learning materials in Rwandan Sign Language for the deaf or hard of hearing and braille materials for learners with visual disabilities are inputs to opening education for all children, leaving fewer behind.

In March, we held a one-day in-person meeting with colleagues in inclusive education in Rwanda, including Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), teachers, representatives of Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) and the National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA), civil society organizations, and international development actors. Our purpose was to share lessons learned, data and insights from the past year designing, prototyping, implementing and learning in the All Children Reading UnrestrICTed Rwanda project. In the meeting we discussed what is leverageable to make the education system more inclusive and accessible for all children with and without disabilities in Rwanda.

Feedback we listened to from different stakeholders in the meeting:

“When it comes to inclusive education, there is still a misconception about the abilities of people with disabilities. In my case as a deaf teacher, I had to fight hard against all barriers and work double to prove that it was possible. Now, I can serve as a role model to my students to show them that they can follow any career they want. I encourage all partners to ensure participation and access to opportunities is given to children with disabilities starting with providing quality inclusive education to all.” Pascasie Masengesho, Teacher, Umutara Deaf School, Kabeza

“It is very important to do proper disability screening and teachers need to be trained and guided on how to identify learners with disabilities so that classrooms and the environment can be adapted accordingly, especially in inclusive schools.” Dr. Beth Nasiforo Mukarwego, Lecturer in Inclusive Education, University of Rwanda

“To plan and implement inclusive education, we need to ensure consistency in approaches, avoid duplication and identify gaps in programmatic and geographic coverage.” Damien Gregory, Co-Chair of the Special Needs and Inclusive Education Technical Working Group (SNIE TWG), and Project Implementation Lead for Building Learning Foundations (BLF), Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

We were very happy that the meeting was thoroughly collaborative, with energy and insight from all. We were grateful for the advice and participation of the many experienced and committed colleagues who shared their input and feedback before, during and after the day.

Finally, in March our team was honored to participate in the very impressive Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF 2022) where BCBF spotlighted African Publishing Innovations including colleagues in publishing from across the continent—from Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. As Bodour Al Qasimi, President, International Publishers Association (IPA) said, “IPA is enhancing African publishing through freedom to publish, copyright protection, and capacity building programs.” It’s time we move together and tackle—as an ecosystem—Africa’s publishing challenges for sustainability and inclusion of all people in African literature and learning.

Warmest regards,
Will

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