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Children’s Reflections on Gender Equality in Fairy Tales: A Rwanda Case Study
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. (NURLI-projektet)
2012 (English)In: Journal of Pan African Studies, ISSN 0888-6601, Vol. 4, no 9, 85-101 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study is to investigate how educational use of Rwandan children’s literature, mainly fairy tales, can challenge traditional gender roles in Rwandan education. Indeed, researchers in and authors of children’s literature argue that the manner in which gender is represented in children’s literature impacts children’s attitudes and perceptions of gender-appropriate behaviour in society. In this respect, contents with gender stereotypes can offer children a privileged opportunity, given appropriate educational intervention to re-examine their gender belief and assumptions, leading them to adopt more egalitarian attitudes. Children’s reflections on gender in a fairy tale of Ndabaga, a female protagonist portrayed in non-traditional gender roles are analysed. The plot and characters were discussed in gendered groups of children (aged 10-12) from one rural and the other from urban primary schools following guiding questions. The findings show that children of both sexes reacted positively to the female character, portrayed in male roles, which has been traditionally unacceptable. All children expressed positive attitudes toward a change of traditional gender roles as the latter obstructs full realisation of females’ rights.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Phoenix Arizona, 2012. Vol. 4, no 9, 85-101 p.
Keyword [en]
children’s reflections, children’s literature, fairy tales, gender roles, egalitarian attitudes
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-78132OAI: diva2:531460
Available from: 2012-06-07 Created: 2012-06-07 Last updated: 2012-09-24
In thesis
1. The Making of a Reading Society: Developing a Culture of Reading in Rwanda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Making of a Reading Society: Developing a Culture of Reading in Rwanda
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Following a growing concern among education stakeholders about the lack of a reading culture and low literacy levels among Rwandans in general and university students in particular, the aim of this thesis is to increase the awareness of Rwandans about the development of a reading culture and early literacy. To achieve this aim, four studies with participants representing different experiences related to reading culture were performed. These qualitative studies draw on different perspectives on the development of a reading culture and emergent literacy by using open-ended questionnaires and interviews. The thesis takes sociocultural and emergent literacy theories as points of departure.

The first study investigates students’ reflections on their previous reading experiences, and discuss ways to develop literacy and a reading culture in Rwanda. The next one sheds light on parents’ involvement in literacy practices at home and the third study concerns what literacy knowledge teachers expect from their pupils when they start nursery and lower primary school. An example of a literacy event (storytelling) is given in the fourth study where children’s narratives of fairy tales are followed by their discussions on gender issues, which in turn can develop the children’s interest in reading. This can also help them relate texts to their life and teach them to think critically.

In sum, the studies show that there is a limited reading culture in Rwanda. That is attributed to the colonial and post-colonial education system, reliance on verbal communication, limited access to reading materials, and ultimately the low status of the mother tongue Kinyarwanda within the sociolinguistic configuration of Rwanda. Also, the participating students and teachers point out the necessity of involving parents more in the creation of an environment that nurtures children’s emergent literacy development so that it becomes a shared responsibility translated into a teacherparent partnership for children’s success at school. Hence, the findings inform the use of this thesis which is to promote literacy and a reading culture in Rwanda by engaging the whole nation in a national effort to build a sustainable culture of reading. To paraphrase the old African saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, I want to conclude by saying that it takes a nation to develop a culture of reading.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. 76 p.
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 165
Reading culture, oral tradition, emergent literacy, Rwanda, students’ literacy experiences, responsibility for early literacy, children’s literature
National Category
Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-81016 (URN)978-91-7519-840-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-09-28, I, 101 house I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2012-09-05 Created: 2012-09-05 Last updated: 2013-05-06Bibliographically approved

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Ruterana, Pierre Canisus
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Faculty of Arts and SciencesEducation and Adult Learning
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