NABU Research Sprint 2

In NABU’s second Research sprint, the team focused on user engagement within the app and how to improve. In June 2021, a questionnaire was sent out to NABUs’ Rwandan Reading Ambassadors with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the cultural, family, and individual reading practices in NABU users’ homes. The main reason for the questionnaire was to use the collected information to evaluate and improve the NABU Reading Ambassadors Program and the app upon the release of its latest version.

With the data coming directly from our Reading Ambassadors, the pool of answers was split into those that “Saw potential in the child/sibling’s future literacy gains through the app” (60%) and those who “Do not have enough time to spend with their child or a younger sibling” (40%).

The Rwandan community has a deep connection to its culture and history, with the country’s reputation for a rise in development, NABU continues to play a big role in the education sector.  The NABU app has helped to create  a sense of belonging by bringing families together and has continued to improve language skills of children by providing bilingual content that is beneficial to the child’s knowledge. 

The Reading Ambassadors have concluded  that parents believe early education is very important for income and financial stability in adulthood. Consequently, most parents whose children use NABU actively, have seen increased motivation in their children to read, in order to learn not only words in their mother tongue, but also in English.

Books have been proven to also help expand a child’s imagination and push their linguistic barriers. The development of a child’s imagination opens doors to support their creativity and builds a strong foundation to have a better understanding of the world. According to The Reading Ambassadors, most parents understand the critical formation of this skill , and view NABU as a gateway for their child’s potential cognitive growth. Once in the palm of their hands, a child can access a multitude of books designed and built around their culture and beliefs. 

Research from the field also found that children who are highly encouraged, pushed, or forced to read end up not enjoying it. Children enjoy reading most when the activity is done voluntarily. According to The Ambassadors, the motivation to read from a child’s perspective comes most from the colorful illustrations on the pages and the engaging content of the stories. 

As most of Rwanda’s culture and history was passed on orally from generation to generation, most children were raised on stories told by their elders. Whether  a grandfather, grandmother, or an old friend from the family, it was those voices that told folklore tales about the country, and from which they  learned poems, other stories, and enjoy a good “Sakwe Sakwe” game of riddles. Those types of stories do bring attention to not only the child but also the whole family.

When asked what motivates Ambassadors to distribute the NABU app and engage its users, one Ambassador responded with

"Motivating kids to read is about helping them discover their own interests and enthusiasm for books. Show them that pages are full of wonderful stories and help them see the fun in reading so they become readers for life. "

- Isaie Uwambajimana

This questionnaire supplied enough information to provide insight to improve our Ambassador Program and crucial data for the Tech department to continue forward. 

The research team is working on a tip sheet that is intended to facilitate the onboarding process for new users and also increase user engagement with the app. The tip sheet will provide evidence-based facts such as: “Reading for only 6 minutes a day can reduce stress (Lewis, 2009)”, and information about the app such as: “Physical books can be expensive and hard to find, NABU is a digital library containing 240+ books”. The tip sheet will benefit both The Ambassadors, as it will give them much more information to work with, and the user, as it will be valuable information that will change their reading habits.

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