A new dream for Rwanda: youth as drivers of national renewal
Rwanda is a country that is quickly recovering from an extraordinary crisis: the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. But the people of Rwanda, both young and old, are looking beyond the genocide, which took the lives of millions, to rebuild their shattered country.
I am the executive director of the Capital Youth Caucus Association in Kenya, an organization that works with young people to strengthen the culture of democracy by teaching civic values. In that capacity I had the privilege of participating in the Roundtable held in Kigali in March of 2008 on “The Role of Universities in Strengthening Civil Society and the Culture of Prosperity and Interdependence.”
During the Roundtable, a high-level team of education experts, principally from the United States, met with Rwanda’s top education leaders to discuss new directions in education for Rwanda that would be useful in the economic, civic, social and political development of the country. With respect to education, I learned firsthand that Rwanda, is willing and ready to acknowledge and understand the past, and then develop a future that offers all Rwandans the opportunities for prosperity and civic engagement. I was really impressed with the enabling environment that has been established by the national government under the strong leadership of President Paul Kagame, to make the dreams of the people of Rwanda into realities.
For Rwanda to rebuild itself in the post-colonial, post-genocide period, it needs its entire people and the international community to work together to strengthen its institutions in all sectors. For Rwanda to achieve its Vision 2020, the youth and women of Rwanda must be engaged as key players in the transformative program. The young people are the ones that must be part of the solution, and will be there to witness the realization of Vision 2020 and The New Rwanda Project, which is aimed at making Rwanda an ICT hub in this region. The youth are the drivers of this ambitious project.
The younger generation in Rwanda if given a chance, and empowered with proper education at all levels, can be in the front lines of people who will further democracy, civic engagement and human rights which are critically important to Rwanda’s development. Rwandan youth can speak not only to each other; they can set an example for youth throughout Africa of how best to avoid violence in the future. The educational sector should entrench the teaching of non-violent conflict to the younger generation so that it can be the leading culture of Rwanda.
The Umuganda Forums (held every last Saturday of the month) are other programs in which the youth need to play a leading role in shaping the future of Rwanda. Institutions of higher learning and other mid-level colleges should focus its youth-led field educational programs to the community to demonstrate that youth can be a constructive element and not a violent force, expressing their anger and frustration by means of the machete-Africa’s most lethal weapon. But to achieve all this, more resources and more ingenuity and creativity will be needed. Rwanda is already spending a larger percentage of its budget on education than other countries in Africa— so it is clearly headed in the right direction.
The people of Rwanda should not lose hope, but rather enlist their young people to build a nation of
strength—a nation whose citizens can achieve prosperity and assume responsibility for the public good.
The world will be with them.
This article is part of a series of articles from ‘The New Rwanda: Prosperity and the Public Good’ by Sondra Myers.
Contact email: sondram[at]ix.netcom.com