Opening by Peter Schneck

Peter Schneck Welcome Speech Kigali 26 June 2006


Ladies and gentlemen,


As the president of the International Board on Books for Young People I am glad to extend a warm welcome to all of you.

When in 1953 IBBY was founded in Zurich, Switzerland, it was mainly based in Europe. Nowadays IBBY is represented worldwide. It was a great pleasure for the international IBBY family when we welcomed Rwanda as the 70th National Section of IBBY at the annual IBBY press conference during the International Bologna Children’s Book Fair this year in March. IBBY Rwanda is hosted by the Editions Bakame, and the fact that we can now meet here just 3 months later to run the workshop as a joint activity of IBBY, Editions Bakame and the Unesco Fund for the Promotion of Culture shows the extraordinary development of this new collaboration.

IBBY’s worldwide membership includes authors, illustrators, translators, journalists, critics, teachers, university professors, students, librarians, booksellers, social workers and parents who are interested in their children’s development.

Beside this networking function, IBBY runs a certain number of activities such as: the Hans Christian Andersen Awards – to be given annually the two creators of children’s books, namely an author and an illustrator; the IBBY Honour List, which presents titles selected by IBBY sections as the best representatives of current children’s books in their countries; the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award, given biennially to two extraordinary projects that promote children’s literacy. In 2006 the two winners are the mobile library in Mongolia and a reading promotion project using the media in Poland. The winning institutions will each receive an award of US$ 10,000; the International Children’s Book Day promoting the love of reading worldwide with a poster and message, sponsored annually by an IBBY section; the IBBY Documentation Centre on Books for Disabled Young People; IBBY’s quarterly journal Bookbird and the IBBY Congresses.

This workshop in Kigali gives an example of how IBBY plans to extend its presence in the field of international projects across the world.

IBBY’s 29th World Congress was held in 2004 in Cape Town, South Africa, and what we learned there helped us to have a better understanding of the huge problems the African Nations have to solve.

It is great that we are here and can welcome representatives of the IBBY Sections based in South Africa and Uganda as well as representatives from Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania; countries we would like to enjoy regular contact with in relationship to IBBY.

As an international network focussing on children’s literature, IBBY pursues the worldwide exchange of literature as an instrument for encouraging a better international understanding by demanding equal access to literacy and books for all children of the world. A fruitful exchange cannot be a one-way road. What is most necessary for Africa is the development of independent and local based publishing combined with a system of book distribution that fits to the local conditions and needs.

In the world of today there can be no cultural or economical development without literacy. And there can be no readers without books. Comparisons worldwide show that the target of literacy is reached best, if teaching starts in a language the child understands, preferably its mother tongue. Children’s Books in African languages are often the single printed material a child can access. Children’s Literature Books, understood by the child and its parents are the best way to introduce the child and its family to reading.

More than 2000 years ago the famous ancient Greek scientist Archimedes told us that if we find the right spot, we could change the world. I believe that we all, here at Editions Bakame in Kigali, Rwanda, are assembled at such a magic point. In five days we will know more about it.

During this time I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about IBBY and to discuss your ideas about the possibilities of encouraging children`s book-related collaboration in Africa.

I thank you for joining us in our efforts.

Peter Schneck, 26 June 2006