Plans are underway to expand Nyange Secondary School in Ngororero District and turn it into a national heroism point of reference.
A partial budget for the works has been approved by the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honours to kick-start the project during the year, Kamali Karegesa, the executive secretary said.
He was speaking on Wednesday at a ceremony held in memory of seven students who were killed at the school in 1997 by Interahamwe militia after they disobeyed orders to identify and group themselves along ethnic lines.
“More classrooms will be built and we want the students to study from here for all the six years of secondary education,” he said.
Other works being considered include paving the roughly 1km road leading to the school off the main road to Kibuye. “We are also considering putting up sign posts along the road so that everyone wishing to visit the school can locate it easily,” Kamali said.
The idea to turn Nyange Secondary School into reference point for heroism is based on the fact that the school and the students who were killed for refusing to identify themselves and separate along ethnic groups embody the power of unity needed in building the nation following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Kamali added.
He also disclosed that government plans to exhume the bodies of the victims, buried in separate locations, for reburial at the school compound.
Also to be set up is a centre for patriotism and heroism with audio and video materials, books.
The long-term mission is to set up a university or research centre at the school, according to Kamali.
Prisca Uwamahoro, one of the survivors of the attack said she welcomed the government’s plan and called on the public and private sector to help in the implementation of the plan.
Modeste Rutebuka, a student in Senior Six, the same classroom where the killings happened, said he feels proud of being a student of the school in which students stood firm against ethnic divisions.
“I feel inspired by the bravery of our brothers and sisters who showed to the world that heroism is not about age but determination. If there was a university here; I would remain here for my undergraduate studies,” Rutebuka said.
The story of Inyange school began at about 8pm on the night of March 18, 1997 when the students were doing revision. The killers, remnants of the Interahamwe and ex-FAR, infiltrated the school through Mukura Forest from their hideouts in DR Congo, and attacked the school.
The militia entered in classrooms and ordered the students attending evening classes to group themselves according to their ethnicity--Hutu and Tutsi – but they refused insisting that they were all Rwandans.
Feeling defied, the militia indiscriminately fired at the helpless students. Six died instantly while another died in hospital. Forty escaped after one of the students loudly alerted them to run out. The one who advised others to run was also immediately shot dead.
This was a very hard decision to be made because it was only three years after the Genocide against the Tutsi. The stand by the students revealed the power of love over hate. They were placed in the second category of national heroes.