As we pay homage to the brave hearts of those who liberated our nation from a horrendous genocide against the Tutsi, the young generation in particular should borrow a leaf and develop the desire to protect their motherland and more so to protect their fellow Rwandans.
The love for our own soil can be developed through different ways some of which are positive experiences and negative experiences for example; the heroes who liberated our country were greatly motivated by harsh conditions in the host countries for instance; lack of access to equal opportunities, deliberate political oppression that left them with no choice but to fight for their freedom both in the host countries and their country of origin.
Although there is an ongoing effort to teach patriotism through different programmes like “Ingando”, and brand promotion like Made-in-Rwanda, the country has been reluctant when it comes to education curriculum of teaching Rwanda history, which in my opinion holds a great significance in transferring the value of patriotism from generation to generation.
Patriotism should be part and partial of the process of socialisation where students from early age understand the history of Rwanda through curriculum. Teaching patriotism in schools brings a sense of mutual respect and the fondness that their country is their home. We do not allow intruders in our house, neither do we let anything happen to it. Schools should conduct several sessions devoted to building a strong love for their country in a way that is just more than singing the national anthem.
Teaching patriotism will develop a child’s feeling of mutual respect, he/ she will take steps to protect one another which may happen through joining the army or simply helping a person in need. It will also bring a feeling of ownership and responsibility which in the long run will reduce the rate at which government property is destroyed.
It will also advance the need to uplift the country as a whole and this serves as motivation and the lessons they learn will shape their careers. Their life’s choices will not depend on their selfish interests and they will stay humble in their success. Even the sense of protecting their nation as a home will bring forth the sense of rationality and they will remain unmoved by false claims and propaganda.
They will logically choose the government, positively criticise the leaders and responsibly execute their democratic rights for uplifting the country.
Patriotism in schools can also be instilled through commemorating national holidays.
There should be modification of the way the lessons are taught. The class of Rwanda history can include videos of freedom fighters along with the textbooks. Even arranging video sessions for the students and showing those documentaries of the liberation war, plus inviting retired army personnel to have a talk session with their students. This way, the students will get to hear firsthand accounts of the extent of the army’s patriotism and draw inspiration from it. It is easier to relate to another person and these lessons tend to have a long-lasting impact since what you learn as a child remains with you and if you choose patriotism right from the start, you will do your bit to give back to our nation.
The writer is Masters’ student (Political Science and International Relations) at Gazi University Ankara, Turkey.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.