After what happened during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, understanding and constructing a unified nation should be key. However, this can only happen if there is patriotism.
Patriotism means love for or devotion to one’s country, studying and working, developing and changing the country for good. This calls for taking pride for what the nation is now but determined for more and most importantly being proud of it.
Patriotism calls for sacrifice and doing what benefits the country. It is for this reason therefore that the young generation ought to take pride in their nation. Schools have the best platform for instilling such values, so how can teachers raise and impart the gospel of patriotism among students?
Beatrice Musiimenta, a teacher at Wellspring Academy, Nyarutarama, says that students can be taught about patriotism by making sure they understand its value and teaching them through history.
History should be learned not only to pass exams but to importantly teach learners love for their country. This can be done by adapting innovative teaching methods like drama, role play or serious games, she says.
Musiimenta notes that learners need to be taught about respecting national symbols, national holidays, learn how to recite the national anthem and respect it. “Respecting the national anthem builds a sense of patriotism and national identity among the youth hence guiding them into the future.”
In addition, she says, promotion of use of the mother tongue is another way students can be taught patriotism, “This is because our mother language is our identity, so children should learn this in their early stages. Our language is the gateway to our culture and tradition,” she says.
“They should use Kinyarwanda more often, as this will instill a sense of pride in them hence raising their consciousness to the fact that their roots are in no way inferior to any other,” she adds.
According to Jackline Umuganwa, a lecturer at Vatel University, students can be taught patriotism and other cultural values through platforms such as Ingando noting that some of these have already been put into practise.
Gilbert Nuwagaba, an English and literature teacher at Maranyundo Girls School, says that teachers, right from lower primary to university, greatly influence the thinking of their learners not only in patriotism but in all aspects of life.
It is teachers that groom kids on what is right as far as loving their country and having it at heart is concerned. This includes social, political, health, self-discipline and respect. Remember learners in most cases take what their teachers tell them as gospel truth, the moment they are taught to love their country, they definitely will do so, he adds.
Teachers should be role models
Nuwagaba stresses that teachers should be role models to their learners, doing what is good for their communities and the country at large urging that inspiring learners starts from very small things like dressing, public conduct, self-respect and responsibility.
“Learners want people they can look up to. So, the moment teachers are patriotic, love their jobs and do it with vigour, patriotism will flow from generation to generation,” he notes.
Alice Usabye, a Kigali based teacher explains that students look up to teachers a lot; this is the chance teachers get to educate students about their Government policies so they can be responsible voters or better policy implementers.
“Teachers prepare students to be thoughtful, active citizens who have an appreciation for the basic values and attitudes of the country and national heritage. Through teaching students about the history of their country, they help them understand hence become ready to protect it,” Usabye says.
Eva Mutumba, a teacher at Little Bears Montessori, Kimihurura, says love for one’s country starts from the love and passion of one’s culture, from both paternal and maternal sides.
She states teachers should have passion for their country before they instill values of patriotism among their students.
The Bible says a tree is seen by its fruits, patriotism is when a child is instilled with what their culture stands for, what their ancestors stood for, what it takes to maintain it and how to maintain it, she says.
“You can’t be a citizen who litters rubbish everywhere, making the environment dirty and think you care for the land, you can’t be a citizen who is corrupt and bring up an honest citizen, you can’t be a citizen who violates human rights and you bring up a whole citizen, you can’t be a citizen who robs on highways and you think you can nurture a humble citizen, it begins with you,” Mutumba says.
John Bosco Otim, a teacher at Nu-Vision high school, Kabuga, notes that as an educator, a parent and Christian, it is paramount for the children to know exactly what took place during the genocide so that there is no chance to feed them distorted and biased information.
He carries on that, this should be done very consciously so as to offer reassurance and comfort to children, while at the same time avoid alienating them against a particular group of people.
The Government of Rwanda should be applauded with its current initiatives of integrating these issues into the competent based curriculum, Otim says.
“To teach patriotism to learners, as teachers, we should make sure we have all the qualities of our culture. What makes Rwanda unique, how it was done before, how it is done now and what has been done in this era that can make us role models to our students. All the good in you will just penetrate them even before the teaching comes in.”
With this, Otim says that learners should be taught qualities of good leaders such that they grow up mediating on them, noting that teachers should on the other hand genuinely care for their students.
“Do you care when they come to school in a bad state, do you want to know why it happened. You are responsible for their happiness. Bother to know why they are not fine and find solutions to assist them feel better. Don’t just teach, care about the students so that you give them a chance to appreciate life, school and their country at large,” Mutumba states.
Otim further says that being honest about tragedies is important, but remembering that we are talking to children is equally important. The message of oneness, patriotism, human rights, tolerance, equality and equal opportunities should be deeply emphasised.