Reading culture and literacy in Uganda. The case of the “Children’s Reading Tent”

University essay from Högskolan i Borås/Institutionen Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap (BHS)

Abstract: The aim of our thesis is to study the two concepts “reading culture” and “literacy” in the context of Uganda. We base our study on the project the Children’s Reading Tent. We examine these two concepts in relation to the people working with the Children’s Reading Tent and the participating children. Moreover, we look at what needs the children have according to the adult informants and how these needs can be met. The methods used are semi-structured interviews and observations of the Children’s Reading Tent. We interviewed ten of the project’s organisers, twenty of the participating children and conducted six observations. We applied the sociocultural approach to literacy in our study and used Street’s view on literacy as a social and cultural practise and Serpell’s concept “bicultural mediation”. We concluded that the participating children come in contact with one culture in school and one at home. The adult informants connect these two cultures through including both literacy practices from school, such as reading and writing, and indigenous literacy practises such as storytelling into the concept literacy. This is due to the fact that children need to learn from the familiar, which in this case is the culture at home. This need can be met through mediation between the two cultures. A reading culture in Uganda implies having the habit of reading in your everyday life and not simply for school purposes. This is believed to be difficult to accomplish since reading is mostly connected with the culture in school.

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