US ambassador rallies communities to support children’s reading culture

US Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Natalie Brown, hands over a symbolic light to a pupil at Buloba Primary School on April 12, 2022. Photo | James Kabengwa

What you need to know:

  • In her remarks, Ms Natalie who described herself as an ardent reader because of her family background, said a generation that is brought up with a strong reading culture gets a foundation of inquisitive and industrious children.

The US Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Natalie Brown has rallied communities to support children’s reading culture, saying it is a key ingredient in shaping productive citizens in the country.

“Drop everything and read. The US government and our partners are passionate about ensuring that children not only learn to read, but they develop their reading skills to a level where they can read to learn to become resilient and productive citizens. This begins with home and communities,” Ms Natalie said during her visit to Buloba Primary School in Wakiso Tuesday.

In her remarks, Ms Natalie who described herself as an ardent reader because of her family background, said a generation that is brought up with a strong reading culture gets a foundation of inquisitive and industrious children.

She argued parents and communities to help children build by offering social support and creating a safe learning environment.

“Evidence shows that when children acquire reading skills early in primary school, their chances of succeeding over their life span improve (and) this helps in long term academic performance, which in turn contributes to national development,” Ms Natalie said.

USAID has supported, according to Ms Natalie, the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) to provide classes between Primary One and Primary Four with appropriate, engaging and effective reading materials.

Earlier, the ambassador had interacted with children and read together with them in small groups on mats that had been prepared under the trees. She donated books to the pupils.

State Minister for Primary Education, Dr Joyce Kaducu in a speech read for him by Mr Ismail Mulindwa, the director Basic education, noted that the reading culture among Ugandans has remained poor due to limited availability of non-teaching reading resources.

“The majority of reading materials and resources in schools are textbooks which primarily promote students’ academic achievement, rather than non-textbooks which are engaging,” Dr Kaducu said.

The host head Teacher of Buloba Primary School, Mr Andrew Ssentumbwe lauded USAID’s intervention because “without reading, there cannot be transformation and progressiveness.

“This is why we thank USAID for a job well done,” he said.

He said his school was started in 1947 as a small Demonstration school for training school and now has 1331 pupils running under UPE with a staff of 69.

As a symbol for lighting up the future, the ambassador handed two lights to two pupils who in turn promised to lift the light high.

USAID and the government are jointly running a five-year programme -Integrated Child and Youth Development (ICYD) to strengthen government systems and improve the government’s ability to deliver basic education and services to children and youth, including orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), in 50 districts across Uganda, with so far 38 covered.

The programme intends to improve early grade reading outcomes for at least 2.5 million Primary school pupils through materials enhancement, teacher development and support, and community engagement.

USAID has also since the inception of this project procured 850,000 teacher guides and pupil books in three local languages of Luganda, Lunyoro/Rutooro and Runtyankore Rukiga.

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