FLORIDA -President Paul Kagame was yesterday presented the "Spirit of Pepper Award" at the Florida State University’s Claude Pepper Center for Intercultural Dialogue in the US.
The award was created last year in recognition of outstanding members of the community who have demonstrated the same qualities and ideals of public service as late US Senator Claude Pepper who worked for world peace and a global respect for human rights.
Kagame, who is currently in the United States, was a special guest at the first ‘Bridging Civilizations’ conference held at the University.
At the conference, Kagame gave a speech on the role of education in building Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide.
In his speech, President Kagame pointed out that the process of building a new Rwanda has been anchored in education as an important pillar for uniting Rwandans, fostering democracy and laying the foundation for overcoming poverty and creating prosperity.
‘President Kagame also spoke on the role of formal education in empowering Rwandans and enabling the country to achieve socioeconomic, cultural and political objectives," indicates a release from the President’s Office.
He illustrated how education, which had in the past been used by previous governments as a tool for exclusion and indoctrination, was now playing its rightful role in building shared purpose among Rwandans.
He said that this is demonstrated by the various civic education exercises which led to the elaboration of the national development roadmap citing an example of the 2020 Vision and the drafting of the Rwandan Constitution that came into force in 2003.
"The discussions and debates in this process involved Rwandans from all walks of life and from all corners of our country ... the result is what we believe to be an innovative framework that is inclusive and that promotes power-sharing and equality among Rwandans," Kagame said.
The Head of State told students, faculty members and other participants that the government of Rwanda, in collaboration with the private sector and other national and international partners were implementing strategies to increase access, improve quality, and render education that is more relevant to Rwanda’s development goals.
The "Bridging Civilizations" conference is intended to further the goals of the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN initiative launched in 2005 by the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey to promote mutual respect between civilizations and cultures, and counter a trend toward extremism that has threatened international stability.
President Kagame will on Thursday deliver a keynote address at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Massachusetts.