University students across the country have been urged to champion peace as they pursue their education if they are to correct mistakes made by some of their predecessors who were misled into taking part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The call was made on Saturday by lecturers and some government officials while addressing some 500 university students who are members of peace, unity, and reconciliation clubs.
The message was in line with celebrating the International Day of Peace in Kigali under the auspices of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) and its partners.
Those who took part in the celebrations used the opportunity to debate on the process of unity and reconciliation in the country and the role the elite should play to enhance it.
Prof. Pierre Rwanyindo Ruzirabwoba, the chairperson of the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), deplored the negative role the elite played under colonial and post-colonial regimes until 1994 when they were actively involved in the Genocide against the Tutsi.
He advised that today’s elite should take the lead to educate the community about unity and reconciliation.
Students take note
“We have understood that our role is to increase awareness of the rationality of unity and reconciliation among our classmates and the general public,” said Jean Pierre Tuyishime, a member of the Students’ Club of Unity and Reconciliation (Scar) at Kigali Independent University.
About 150 members of Scar at ULK regularly organise conferences and debates on peace in order to educate their peers on peace.
Other Scar clubs in schools across the country are involved in similar initiatives.
“We would like these students who understand it better to help us teach their parents because our schools might be positive in matters of Genocide studies but we shall have a problem at the end of the day if parents do not tell children the truth,” said Richard Kananga, the director of Peace Building and Conflict Management Department at NURC.
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly.
In a statement released for the occasion, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said education of the world’s children should place emphasis on the value of tolerance and mutual respect.
“Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity. Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might,” Ban said.
Recent research has shown that more than 85 per cent of Rwandans believe that the unity and reconciliation process since the end of the Genocide was on good track.