Origins of genocide ideology in Rwanda schools

Genocide ideology is rooted in the history of Rwandan education. Education Times talked to veteran educationist Alivera Mukamana, 56, who has been teaching for the last 38 years.

Genocide ideology is rooted in the history of Rwandan education. Education Times talked to veteran educationist Alivera Mukamana, 56, who has been teaching for the last 38 years.

During this time, Mukamana has only taught in two schools; Muhondo Primary School and Kanyoni Primary School, both located in Rulindo district in Northern Province. She remembers how genocide ideology was introduced at primary level.

The main sign she observed was the so called “rapport de rentrée”, which aimed at recording the number of the students who come back to school after holidays.

“It was very important to record them by ethnic groups; we used to ask the Hutu, Tutsis and Twas [my class never had the latter] to stand up respectively, so that we write the number of each group”, she said.

She said some students could feel ashamed to stand up.

Mukamana has never known the value of this ethnic distinction, since they still do the “rapport de rentrée”, except that they are not required to put ethnic groups besides the names of the students.

“I suspect that the report could help to favour some students at the expense of others. This is because, even in national examination, some students, however intelligent, could fail while others who do not perform well would pass,” she recalls. Mukamana also recalls how a pupil would pass the national exams and get replaced by a schoolmate who did not pass at all.

This cannot happen today because today’s system doesn’t allow any form of discrimination. During the national exam marking, the team doesn’t know the names of candidates and afterwards, the marks awarded are made public. Before 1994 only the names of those who had ‘passed’ were released.

Mukamana is pleased that things have drastically changed.

 “We are now using curriculum that inculcates lectures of unity and reconciliation and good neighbourliness”. She said students meet and learn about togetherness and focus on debates that are developmental, instead of those feeding conflicts.

In conclusion, Mukamana said, “teachers in my time were involved in politics without even knowing it.”

 

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