Education and the transformation of the mind
“Since wars and for that matter, genocide began in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”- (UNESCO).
Philosophers seem to have it that conflict is part of human nature with attendant result. That human beings are always in conflict. Human conflict is a subject that demands the most careful and searching inquiry.
It is a subject that needs public understanding. Education in Rwanda had not risen to this challenge. This is not surprising given that education in pre-genocide period was founded on an ideology of irreconcilable differences meant to keep Rwandans apart and not explore their commonality.
So the challenge after the genocide raised a number of questions; could we do better? Could we educate ourselves to avoid conflict or peacefully resolve it? Was it possible to modify our attitudes and orientations so that we practice tolerance, we seek dialogue in Rwandan society?
It is on record that Rwanda of today has achieved remarkable success. The political environment has been conducive enough to promote all these values to transform the mind through education.
Insight into ethnic groups
Human beings are remarkably prone to form partisan politics between their own, and other groups to develop a marked preference for their on group, and to accept favourable distinctions of other groups that go beyond the objective evidence or requirements of a situation.
It is therefore important that Rwanda strengthen the system of education that empowers the people with the capacity to say no to what is wrong and yes, to what is right.
This calls for an independent mind able to judge issues rationally. It has removed the adaptive nature of ethnocentrism and prejudice that was in the past rooted in children at a tender age. Today, we have an education system which accommodates all Rwandans.
There have been remarkable efforts by mass media after the genocide to try and educate the masses on the dangers of ethnocentrism. This was further backed or reinforced by what occurs in schools, in the streets, churches and at home.
The cumulative effect of wide spreading frustrating condition, that also exacerbates the development f prejudice and stereotyped thinking, do not have any room in today’s Rwanda.
Education through families, schools, the media and community, has turned into a force for reducing individuals and group ethnic hatred. It has helped to enlarge our social identification in light of common characteristics and subordinate goals.
It also seeks a basis for fundamental human identification across regions I the face of manifest conflict. The country is blessed because all Rwandans speak one language and culture seems not to be different.
According to Emmanuel Mbayiha, a retired teacher experience has shown that the extent of contact between groups that are negatively oriented towards one another is not the most important factor in achieving a more constructive construction.
“Much depends on education, whether contact occurs under favourable conditions or not. If there is an aura of mutual suspension, if the arties are highly competitive or are not supported by authorities, it is not likely to be helpful, whatever the amount of exposure.
On the other hand, if there is friendly contact between persons based on the principle of equal status, especially if relevant authorities support such contact and if the contact is embedded in cooperative activity and fostered by mutual aid ethics as has been in Rwanda, then there is likely to be strong positive out come. Under these conditions, the more contact the better.
Such contacts are then associated with improved attitudes between previous suspicious or hostile groups as well as with constructive changes in patterns of interaction between them.
Today, our children identify themselves as Rwandans not as Hutu or Tutsi except in isolated cases where they are poisoned by parents.
This is an important path to lasting peace that Rwanda has been yawning for, for many years.
There is no doubt that the future generations will live in a peaceful Rwanda free of hatred genocide.