Ahead of this year’s Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) Day, the U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac, together with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Acting E.D, Eng Andrew Kitaka have emphasized the need to further inculcate the culture of reading among children in Uganda.
‘DEAR’ is a week-long event characterized by several activities which will run from March 11 to 15. This year’s activities are themed on “Uganda Reads To Lead”.
During the media launch of the DEAR Day activities on Monday, the U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac said “there is nothing as fundamental as the ability to read”. Without this, these children won’t reach their potential, she said.
“It is important to create opportunities for the kids to read but more importantly to show them that it is fun. Because if you tell children they have to work hard at something, it is the fastest way to turn them off. They want things to be fun,” she told reporters during a news conference.
The U.S envoy said initiatives such as DEAR day are critical to bring attention to the importance of reading. The idea of DEAR Day was championed in Uganda by the U.S Peace Corps but has since received support from partners like KCCA, Enjuba Spelling Bee and Mixa Kids.
In stressing the need to foster a culture of reading, Ambassador Malac quoted Nelson Mandela saying “Education is the most powerful tool with which you can change the world”.
She hailed KCCA for embracing the idea of promoting the campaign of reading.
Speaking at the same event, the Acting Executive Director of KCCA, Eng Andrew Kitaka said the Authority has designated March 15 as a day to create synergy for more reading.
He said that as a result of previous DEAR campaigns, libraries have been established in all the 79 KCCA-supported schools in Kampala as well as training of headteachers and library attendants.
In addition, up to 600 Spelling Bee manuals have been distributed to different schools. These efforts have greatly improved the performance in literacy at Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) level, Eng Kitaka said.
He urged parents to limit the time that children spend on Television, mobile phones and the internet which he said have become distractions to children taking up the time that would have been used for reading.
“They say that if you want to hide something from an African, put it into writing. But we need to change this perception,” he said.
Aaron Kirunda, the co-founder and Chief Executive at Enjuba Spelling Bee called for efforts like ensuring that children create their own stories from their daily encounters. He also challenged media like radios and TVs to create time for programs that enhance literacy.