More instructive materials such as books about the country’s history and outreach programmes that foster citizenry interactions are needed as part of efforts to educate the masses about unity and reconciliation, senators have said.
The lawmakers were interacting with the Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Fidèle Ndayisaba, after he presented the 2015 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer to the Senate at Parliament yesterday.
The report, a regular survey that has been conducted after every five years by NURC since 2010 about the unity and reconciliation situation in the country, shows improvements in the area but it also highlights challenges such as continued ethnic-based perceptions among Rwandans.
On a positive note, the 2015 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer indicates that up to 92.5 per cent of Rwandans today feel that unity and reconciliation has been achieved and that citizens live in harmony.
But the survey indicates that 27.9 per cent of Rwandans view themselves through the lenses of ethnic groups (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa), while 25 per cent still see divisions and genocide ideology among their compatriots.
The ethnic-based perceptions are still held 22 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which more than a million people were killed and officials say that more efforts are needed to reverse the situation.
Senator Narcisse Musabeyezu said methods used to help Rwandans change the perceptions need to be refined with the focus being put on touching their hearts.
“It’s time to narrow down our methods. We all need to think about the methods we are using to change people’s mindsets. We need to further work on their conscience,” he said.
Senator Perrine Mukankusi urged fellow senators to reach out to citizens across the country and tell them once again about the importance of unity and reconciliation with a focus on districts where the ethnic-based perceptions remain more prevalent.
The districts, according to the 2015 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer, include Musanze, Rubavu, Gasabo, Nyarugenge, Ruhango, Nyanza, and Nyagatare.
“We need to look at what measures are in place to help people in these districts improve their mindsets,” Mukankusi said.
Senator Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo agreed, also suggesting that NURC should conduct further research to investigate why ethnic-based perceptions are still more prevalent in certain parts of the country.
“There should be research to identify why genocide ideology is more prevalent in the districts where it is said to be so perceived,” he said.
Senator Laurent Nkusi, a veteran educationist, rooted for the provision of history books in schools because some children know very little about the country’s past.
The 2015 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer involved a sample of 12,000 respondents in 450 villages across the country’s 30 districts.