The national civic education training programme, Itorero, has played a vital role in nurturing unity and wellbeing of Rwandans and should be further empowered to reach out to more citizens and put those who are already trained to productive use, senators have said.
The legislators made the call yesterday as they endorsed a report of the senatorial Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions, that examines Itorero’s role in curbing genocide ideology and promoting unity and reconciliation in the country.
“Itorero has contributed a lot to different changes that have happened in the country because its graduates help sensitise Rwandans about many development programmes, including unity and reconciliation,” said Senator Gallican Niyongana, the chairperson of the committee.
In February, members of the committee launched a two-month inquiry into how unity and reconciliation is being promoted in the country and how efforts to eradicate genocide ideology and discrimination are faring.
The assessment was done in line with the Senate’s mandate to monitor how fundamental principles on which post-Genocide Rwanda is built are being promoted by both the government and members of the civil society.
Promoting unity among Rwandans and fighting genocide ideology and any other forms of discrimination in the Rwandan society are among such principles, which the Senate has a mandate to advance.
Overall, the legislators found that Itorero programme, which the government launched in 2007, has been contributing to unifying Rwandans by inculcating in them the right values based on the Rwandan culture of unity, solidarity, and patriotism.
They recommended that the Government increases the duration of Itorero courses for participants to learn more and for the trainers in the programme attend capacity building courses so they can improve on their training skills.
The legislators’ recommendations also include the need for the National Itorero Commission to do a plan on how to follow-up on Itorero graduates (intore) to check if they can implement the activities they pledge to carry out while in training.
They also recommended that district officials should coordinate representatives of different Itorero graduates so they can help in promoting development programmes in their communities.
“Districts don’t seem to know how to follow up on what different groups of trained intore are doing. Representatives of the groups should be coordinated so they can be conduits for channelling development messages to the people,” said Jean Damascène Ntawukuriryayo.
Senator Tito Rutaremara emphasised that Itorero has the objective to stimulate energy among Rwandans so they can “stand up and work for the country”.
With over a million graduates since the programme started up to 2016, some senators, including Senator Perrine Mukankusi, advised that the programme should open up to more Rwandans so that more people can benefit from it.
“The criteria for choosing those who attend the programme should be sure to consider that people who already attended it shouldn’t be sent back before those who didn’t attend get a chance to attend. Some people have attended the programme five times while they should be sending other Rwandans who haven’t been there and would benefit from the training,” Mukankusi said.
The legislators also advised the National Itorero Commission to encourage leaders of civil society and faith-based organisations to inculcate good Rwandan values among their members and for the country’s education system to teach the values at all levels of education.