KIGALI - Amidst widespread concerns about the continued existence of genocide ideology in many secondary schools, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) has moved in to help stop the cancerous ideology. The Executive Secretary of NURC, Fatuma Ndangiza, on Tuesday met with private secondary school owners, and added her voice to those of many other officials in efforts to tame the vice.
“We invited all private school owners to share our concerns, brainstorm on the existing problems and jointly lay strategies to overcome them,” Adeline Muhoza, the commission’s public relations officer, said.
The meeting, which was held at La Pallisse Club in Nyandungu, Kigali, comes months after the issue of genocide ideology in schools came in spotlight following a parliamentary probe report late last year, which indicated that the problem existed in some schools to as high as 98 percent.
And NURC’s efforts come after Education minister Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya and the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Joseph Murekeraho, narrowly survived a vote of no confidence from charged parliamentarians, who strongly accused the duo of not understanding the magnitude of the problem.
Participants reflected on several cases that emerged in schools, which illustrated the worrying extent to which the ideology was deeply rooted among students, and devised possible solutions.
One such case that was brought to the fore involves a student of Ecole de Commerce et Sciences de l’Education (ECOSE) in Musambira, Kamonyi District in the Southern Province, who was arrested mid lad year after writing an anonymous letter (tract) promoting genocide ideology.
“We want all Tutsis in this school killed,” the school’s principal, Dr Camille Karimwabo, quoted the letter, as reading.
Ndangiza reminded participants that schools are sensitive places that, if abused, could ruin the nation’s future.
She appealed to schools’ owners to make regular visits to their schools and get personally involved in promotion of a culture of tolerance and peaceful co-existence amongst pupils and students.
“This issue should start right with us; some of us are in a state of denial, and it makes the issue of genocide ideology look smaller than what it actually is,” Ndangiza said. The school owners grouped in their federation, known in French as, Federation Rwandaise des Proprietaires des Ecole Prives (FRPEP), seemed to be admitting their weaknesses, and promised to reverse the situation.
The federation president, Jean Paul Gasheegu, said it was a surprise and at the same time a shame to find that “our schools are being torn apart by genocide ideology.” “It is because most teachers do not care about children. They treat them not as their own,” he decried.
He offered a piece of advice on how to tackle the problem suggesting that staff meetings involving particularly teachers should be organised regularly to highlight the importance of nurturing pupils/students in a proper manner.
“A fish rots beginning with the head. It is us the elders supposed to teach the children good ways,” Gasheegu said.
Officials from the Education ministry who attended the meeting called on school authorities to pass on the message of unity and reconciliation to their students.
“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” the ministry’s Secretary General, Narsis Musabeyezu, warned.
Meanwhile, NURC on Sunday held a town hall call-in meeting broadcast live on both state TV and Radio, during which participants and callers, all emphasised on the need to leave no stone unturned while fighting genocide ideology in schools.
“In schools you find ethnically-biased writings on walls in toilets and classrooms,” Jackson Mudaheranwa, a member of a unity and reconciliation club of Unilak, Kigali-based private university, said in the meeting held at Telecom House at Kacyiru.