History lessons should cater for that
This is perhaps one of the most controversial debates that I have ever had to be part of; most especially because of its sensitive nature and the fact that we actually are mourning our loved ones who perished during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Which brings us to today’s topic: Should genocide studies be introduced in schools? I am not particularly saying that it is a bad idea but I believe that perhaps, instead of introducing a particular lesson on the subject, we need to emphasise the importance of teaching history.
You see, History is what answers the questions. It is the one that tells us how we got here.
Going along with understanding society, studying history allows us to take a look into what causes change. The events leading up to a genocide help us understand how we should be responsible for what we say, especially if we are in a leadership position.
History gives us the opportunity to see how daily life has changed over the years, and what goes into fostering that change. Hearing the stories of those before us can inspire us to take action and be more responsible for our own lives and the lives of those around us. Our past can have a huge impact on our future and we need that inspiration to teach us that.
I understand the importance attached to having lessons about genocide, I also understand how valuable it is for students to know that there is a lesson that is set aside to explain the details of what really happened but I feel that the real issue here, the issue that requires emphasis is teaching History lessons.
Maybe there are History topics like the one concerning Napoleon that can be replaced with history that directly connects to us.
History lessons give us a better understanding of the world and what shaped it into what it is today.
We can use education to end genocide
It’s been 22 years since the Genocide against the Tutsi happened and claimed more than a million lives in a span of 100 days, something the Grim Reaper would be shocked to achieve if he was to do it in one country.
Children born after the Genocide know about the events through conversations with elders, documentation, TV shows, movies and radio programmes among others.
However, information has come to light indicating that there’s genocide ideology in schools and this begs the question; should genocide studies be taught in schools? Genocide is a sensitive topic and some people will argue that, since there’s no bit that’s not traumatising about the Genocide, it would be safe to leave it out.
But then, we all know how people were brainwashed into carrying out senseless massacres, wouldn’t it be better if we taught the history of the Genocide in schools so that students can get a better understanding of what it’s all about and the evil that comes with it or would we rather be sorry than be safe?
Schools don’t need to get into the gruesome details but students can get an understanding of what caused the Genocide, how perpetrators were brainwashed and the long term effects. When children are out here in society, they hear a lot of things, some of which is actually bad and this might determine how they think about the Genocide.
We risk having genocide happen again if we don’t teach our children about it. By teaching them about the Genocide, the first core subject I think should be is hate, because it’s through hate that such atrocities do happen and can be repeated throughout generations. Also, enriching student’s knowledge on genocide helps to eliminate ignorance, denial, racism, anti-semitism, and prejudice.
It doesn’t make sense that such an event that changed the course of many people’s lives and is always a looming threat is not in our text books. Teaching the Genocide in schools would help students to appreciate human rights and recognise injustice even in its smallest form. The important aspect of teaching the Genocide in schools is to have students be able to act when they recognise warning signs.
I feel that it is unrealistic to expect students or adults, for that matter, to truly be able to stop the machinery of genocide once it is in full motion. 1994 taught us that. Genocide is something that should be known and taught throughout the world. Those who were heroes, or survived should always and forever be remembered. And students of the future should be able to gain knowledge on genocide throughout their years of schooling. Not only for awareness as to what’s happened in the past and is in some places still happening, but as well to avert it from happening again.