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Multilateral Partnerships Boost Book Use in Rwanda’s Primary Schools, LIBROS Study Finds

13 Jun 2024

A section of participants in the LIBROS study dissemination event

On June 12, 2024, a significant event was held in Kigali to present the findings of the “Learning to Improve Book Resource Operational Systems” (LIBROS) study. This comprehensive research was conducted by the University of Rwanda-College of Education in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame (US) and the Resilient Africa Network (Uganda), supported by USAID through the Supporting Holistic and Actionable Research in Education (SHARE) Activity. The study reveals that key multilateral partnerships have significantly boosted title development and book use in Rwandan primary schools.

The meeting was attended by representatives from various sectors, including public institution officials, development partners, private industry stakeholders, educators, parents, and community leaders. The event aimed to disseminate the study’s findings and discuss the way forward in improving the book supply chain (BSC) in Rwanda.

It was a hybrid dissemination meeting that also involved findings from other LIBROS studies conducted in Cambodia and Honduras with the aim to cross- country sharing and learning about strategies that contribute to improvement of book supply chain for availability, access and use in schools.

Participants were introduced to the background of the LIBROS study, which explored strategies to combat book shortages among primary school learners in Rwanda. The study emphasized the effectiveness of collaboration between government and non-government partners, framed as "multilateral partnerships in textbook production and book use." The study aimed to analyze the perceived impact and contributing factors of the partnership, as well as the observed challenges and additional support required for its success.

The meeting was attended by representatives from various sectors

“Book scarcity seriously impacts children’s learning opportunities. In 2012, sub-Saharan Africa had a median pupil-textbook ratio of 1.4 to 1, with textbooks often shared. Rwanda has improved this ratio to 1:1 in Kinyarwanda and English subjects by 2019,” noted Professor Alphonse Uworwabayeho, the study’s Principal Investigator and Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Rwanda-College of Education.

Professor Vincent Manirakiza, the Deputy Principal Investigator and Professor of Geography and Development at the University of Rwanda-College of Education, highlighted the positive impact of multilateral partnerships on title development and book use in Rwanda. He noted that the study addressed three questions :
• What are the characteristics and impacts of the multilateral partnership on title development and use ?
• How was this partnership developed and implemented ?
• What challenges were encountered, and what additional support is needed ?

The methodology included a qualitative case study with 25 interviews and 27 focus group discussions involving various stakeholders.

Key findings highlighted the pivotal role of various organizations in improving the BSC, title development, and book use in Rwandan primary schools. Government agencies such as MINEDUC, REB, NESA, and local governments have been crucial in planning, coordinating, and governing the efforts of all partners. International funding agencies like USAID, FCDO, and the World Bank have provided financial support for book production, distribution, and other reading promotion activities. Implementing organizations, including FHI, UNICEF, World Vision, Save the Children, British Council, and AEGIS Trust, have carried out programs aimed at improving book access and usability. The private industry has also been involved in content creation, book production, and distribution.

The event featured live testimonials from partners such as public and private school headteachers, development partners, private industry representatives, teachers, and parents. They shared their experiences and the positive impacts of the partnership on title development and book use.

Group discussions focused on the way forward, emphasizing the need for continued collaboration and the expansion of digital resources. Participants also highlighted the importance of targeted training for content creators and educators, fostering local innovation, and engaging communities to promote a reading culture.

The findings from the LIBROS study underscore the transformative impact of collaborative action in Rwanda’s educational landscape. By leveraging partnerships and innovative strategies, Rwanda is ensuring that every child has access to quality educational resources. This model of multilateral collaboration and digital innovation offers valuable lessons for other low- and middle-income countries aiming to enhance their own book supply chains and educational outcomes. The study’s insights pave the way for a brighter future in education, demonstrating the power of united efforts to address book shortages and improve learning experiences for primary school students.

Story by

Ntirandekura Schadrac
PRO, UR-CE

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