NKUMBA - Rwanda has decided to involve students in peace making and conflict resolution in an effort to achieve lasting stability in the Great Lakes region.
Kigali has organised a five-day training workshop for 150 secondary school students
from Rwanda, Uganda and the DR Congo.
The students attending the workshop are expected to be ambassadors of peace in their respective countries.
The initiative, which falls under the International Conference on Peace, Security and Development on the Great Lakes region, comes after discussions in June 2005 between Rwandan senior government officials and Carl Hobert, the Executive Director of Axis of Hope, who is an international expert on conflict resolution.
The Executive Secretary of National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Fatuma Ndangiza, said the students drawn from 15 schools, five from each, in the three countries are to acquire basic skills in conflict analysis and peace building.
Ndangiza was speaking on Monday at the launch of the training at the Rwanda National Peace and Leadership Centre in Nkumba, Northern Province.
She told the students: “It is refreshing to find people like you preoccupied with world peace. For when we pose for a moment and get interested in global affairs, we will discover that there is a common wealth among all nations.
“It is when we do not pay sufficient attention to our common denominator, as citizens of nations of the global village that humanity in general pays the ultimate price in which case was the Genocide in Rwanda.”
“The issues of peace and security have been critical to Rwanda’s post-Genocide reconstruction. The same issues are pertinent to the Great Lakes region and Africa as a whole,” she added.
Rwandan students participating were picked from Rubavu, Nyabihu, Musanze, Rulindo and Gicumbi districts in Zone One of the Great Lakes region, which is divided between 12 zones.
Zone One includes northeastern DRC, northwestern Rwanda and southwestern Uganda.
Education Minister, Dr Jeanne d’Arc Majawamariya, who officially launched the training, said it is aimed at suppressing the hate ideology passed on by the regimes prior to the 1994 Genocide.
“The most barbaric action happened in Rwanda; however, peace can’t be realised if people in the region are not educated about conflict management and the dangers of conflicts. In Rwanda we have to unteach the hate ideology,” she said.
Uganda’s Ambassador to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero, who was also present, said: “I want you to see how Rwanda has turned scars into stars.”
As part of the initial package, the students are, first, destined to learn from the experiences of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“We want them to first share experiences of conflicts distant from them so that they employ those skills in the local situation. We do not want them to start with local conflicts in the Great Lakes, which could spark off their emotions,” Hobert, the trainer, told The New Times.
The training is expected to spread to Burundi, Tanzania and Sudan in future.
It will be conducted annually, according to Ndangiza, whose institution is overseeing the exercise.
Rwanda’s efforts to train the youth are expected to supplement diplomatic measures to end conflicts in the region especially in eastern DR Congo where pockets of negative forces fighting neighbouring countries have snubbed disarmament calls.