How firm is implementation of peace education?

Two years back, the government initiated peace studies in the curriculum. This was done with an aim of looking at how best peace can be integrated into humanity courses like history, religion, social studies, among others, which in the end would facilitate the prevention of conflict and peace building.

According to the Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer of 2015 report, there was remarkable improvement in the reconciliation process during the years 2010 to 2015, increasing from the 82.3 per cent up to 92.5 per cent.

However, 39.9 per cent of the citizens felt that there are Rwandans who still sow divisions and genocide ideology while 30.5 per cent of them contended that there are Rwandans who still view themselves, and others, through ethnic lenses.

Experts believe that with an education system that engages the youth meaningfully and lays a platform that instils and preaches unity and peace, this can be dealt with.

Since its inception in 2016, how far has the curriculum come in terms of implementation?

Dr Erasmus Rwanamiza, the director of education at AEGIS Trust Rwanda, says there is improvement in teachers’ openness to be able to discuss with the students genocide topics which were regarded as sensitive issues before.

He, however, notes that more effort is needed to train more teachers for full implementation of the curricula.

Over 3,000 teachers countrywide have been trained in collaboration with Rwanda Education Board.

“The teaching that is integrated in every subject, if well implemented, would also improve on how to equip students with crosscutting issues of critical thinking skills, freedom of expression and respect of the differences among their fellow students. This would be hard for them to be convinced by Genocide deniers and the like,” Rwanamiza says.

He adds that more players are sought to be added in the implementation of the curricula and these include non-government organisations, peace clubs in schools and civil society actors.

“The collaboration also eyes the academicians through their research on the specific topics, for instance, transgenerational trauma, testimonies and more stories about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.”

Eric Mahoro, the head of programmes at Never Again Rwanda, a peace building and social justice organisation, says despite the fact that the Ministry of Education integrated genocide ideology studies which was reviewed in 2013 under the new competency based curriculum, it hasn’t yet been fully implemented.

He says that there is a gap to the extent that teachers are not well equipped with the skills.

“There is still a general lack of information on specific topics and proper activities required to deliver related subjects.” he adds.

Mahoro is, however, certain that the curriculum will finally deliver its intended objectives, citing how different it is from the pre-genocide school curriculum which was largely based on teachings that inculcated hatred among students and that it is this that laid ground for the Genocide.

Teachers say

Wilson Mugarura, the Head Teacher of King David Academy, says there is still a slight inadequacy of the materials in regards to the implementation of the curriculum.

“In our school, for instance, the students in senior three and senior six have no textbooks about peace education,” he says.

He, hence, notes that whereas they have received training, which is one of the government’s strategies to implement the curricula, more needs to be done.

Edith Batamuriza, the head teacher at Kagitumba High School, says parents are the main challenge in the implementation of peace education.

“Some parents still have genocide ideology so much it is a hindrance to their young ones as they end up being brainwashed,” she says.

Alex Mushumba, the head teacher at Martyrs Secondary School, believes transformative teachings create concrete opportunities for learners to identify and reflect on interconnectedness and shared responsibilities.

“This leads to opening up of opportunities and spaces for students to get to know each other better,” Mushumba says.

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