While “Genocide is the responsibility of the entire world.” As argued by Ann Clwyd, in her book: A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, it is only by examining individual roles that we can avoid it. While many factors were underplay and fingers can affordably be pointed towards sp ecific directions, the chief concern here is education.
It is undeniable that education contributed substantially to the social processes of categorization and stigmatization that led to the Rwandan genocide. It was not only the unequal access to education, problems in the teaching of history and matters of identity that were an issue at the time, but also the use of schools as platforms to spread hateful ideologies.
Schools were common grounds for massacre of students, teachers and even the community that sought refuge in them. Tutsi teachers and some moderate Hutus were hunted down and horrendously massacred by their colleagues. This aside, schools were equally the preparatory labs where the gruesome ideas were hatched and disseminated into the minds of the gullible innocent young Hutus. It is in schools where heartless teachers, knowingly or unknowingly made the genocide ideology manifest in the minds of the young boys and girls, making them –for the first time- uniquely aware of their ethnic differences and motivating them to act on hatred.
The youth in colleges and universities were even easier to convince because they simply understood politics or so they thought they did. They trusted their professors and the little knowledge they had acquired. They were knowledgeable: they ought to have set a good example in the community. The core principle of education is embedded in a strong moral fiber, a fiber neither the professors nor their students remotely possessed.
This is in no way intended to sound as though schools did everything. The fact is that neighbors hacked neighbors to death in their homes, and colleagues hacked colleagues to death in their workplaces. Doctors killed their patients, and so did schoolteachers their pupils. Even drunken militia bands, fortified with assorted drugs from ransacked pharmacies, were bused from massacre to massacre. One might therefore wonder why all I am raising too much fuss about schools and education. The truth is that we would expect better from education or religion for that matter- not the worst!
It is in our schools where the future leaders and change makers are hosted. It is also in our schools where a better section of our population is housed at the same time. These schools also train and nature innocent hearts in whose world only love exists. If educators can empower these minds with the values of humanity and peace, the genocide ideology will be long forgotten.
It is therefore very clear that education is key in fighting the genocide ideology. Educators should carefully and delicately deal with issues about genocide. Seeing as education is a major platform and tool for the fight against ideology, educators must seriously embrace their roles in the fight. While at it, we must remember that the important goal in the fight against the genocide ideology is to learn from mistakes and apply these lessons to the future.
The writer is a Language Consultant