They had dedicated all their life to serve as teachers. In fact, they were recognized after 25 years of exemplary service as teachers during a ceremony held at Saint André School in Kigali in 1991. They included eight teachers, among them two females.
But during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the 8 teachers were targeted and killed by their own students. This is one of the moving testimonies given by Etienne Kayijuka, a Genocide survivor and former student of Muyumbu Primary School on Sunday, during the commemoration event held at Groupe Scolaire Muyumbu to remember about 28 teachers from Muyumbu Sector who were killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Kayijuka recalled that the teachers did their best to educate Rwandan children citing one teacher called Apollinaire Nyagatare, who was a role model to both fellow teachers and learners.
The teachers were serving at Muyumbu Primary School (currently Muyumbu GS), and Murama Primary School.
“Apollinaire Nyagatare was a teacher who treated students like a parent, and taught them to embrace team spirit and love one another so that they become good citizens. He also motivated other teachers in a commendable manner,” Kayijuka said.
Discrimination against Tutsi children in schools
But, Venantie Kazayire, a teacher who survived the attack against Tutsi teachers in Muyumbu, recounted that though the deceased teachers wanted their students to be people with integrity, some parents and teachers acted against that good cause, by inculcating hatred and Genocide ideology against Tutsi.
There was what she called “preparing future killers,” when she referred to the system of teaching which indoctrinated hatred among students from primary school, inciting Hutu children to hate Tutsi.
Some Tutsi students in primary schools were removed from the lists of those allowed to be promoted to secondary schools, yet they had scored the required grades. Their places, Kayijuka said, were instead given to children of the Hutu who were in powerful positions then.
This situation discouraged Tutsi students and most of them went into farming or businesses because they were denied rights to education during President Juvénal Habyarimana’s reign, according to Evariste Rugemintwaza, the Director of GS Muyumbu.
Commending the current education system, educationists who were present at the event said that today all students enjoy equal education opportunities without discrimination of any kind, under “Education for All policy,” whereby even students from vulnerable families get free access to education under the Nine Year Basic Education initiative.
“The curriculum in the past regimes had hate content, but that is only a matter of the past. Now the education curriculum is intended to foster quality education, unity and values for the benefits of all,” Rugemintwaza said.
A book by researcher and former Senator Antoine Mugesera, entitled “Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda 1959-1990, Itotezwa n’Iyicwa Bihoraho” (loosely translated as ‘The Living Conditions of Tutsi in Rwanda 1959-1990, the incessant persecution and killings’) officially published in 2017, shows that in 1962/63, Hutu in secondary schools were 62 per cent, while Tutsi were 36 per cent. In 1980/81, Hutu were 86 per cent whereas Tutsi were just 12.4 per cent.