[EDITORIAL] Trivialising Genocide: Textbook anomaly should be investigated

Rwanda Education Board (REB) has recalled a textbook, ‘General Studies and Communication Skills’, from schools for “having content that trivialise the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi”.

The textbook was recalled after a teacher in Kirehe District alerted Rwanda Education Board (REB).

The textbook was published in 2016 by Indian publication consultants known as LAXMI Publishers and its copies were distributed to Advanced Level secondary schools, primarily for Senior Four classes, based on REB’s new 2017 competency-based curriculum.

Some of the content say there was a civil war in Rwanda in 1994 instead of a genocide. Calling the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi a civil war is an attempt at rewriting history and tantamount to Genocide denial and trivialising it.

Genocide denial is a big challenge and has intensified over the last few years fuelled by the fast growing social media. Such incidents are a setback in the fight against Genocide denial and an insult to survivors who are yet to get justice because many of the perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide are still at large.

Whether the anomaly was unintentional, it should not have happened in the first place. Due diligence should have been taken before the book was published.

The incident should be a learning point for publishers in Rwanda and the regulator. Any publisher undertaking such work should be someone who understands the key issues about the history of the country and should know the facts.

Going forward, REB should review the entire process of how books intended for schools are handled, from who reads and approves the content to what the publisher does.

Also an inquiry should be instituted to establish how the anomaly came about and whoever is responsible should be held accountable.

This oversight will cost government money and time. Worse still, it is a setback in the fight against Genocide denial.