More than 87,000 people have participated in the civic education training commonly known as Itorero ry’Igihugu, in the last two years.
This was disclosed by officials from the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), during the presentation of the commission’s 2009/2010 report to the senate.
NURC Chairman, Bishop John Rucyahana, said that among the participants, 40,471 were students.
He noted that the programme originally targeted students preparing to join public universities, but now attracts religious institutions, women and youth groups, artists, and NGOs.
“Surveys have shown that if Rwandans are able to confront sources of their historical social divisions, reconciliation is more likely to occur between them. We also employ other methods like debates in educational institutions,” Rucyahana said.
He added that the programme teaches Rwanda’s traditional values, history and the civic role in national development, all aimed at building national unity and social cohesion.
“We are positive on the results because the impact is quite clear. Many graduates hail the programme and commend the fact that it now covers all sections of Rwandans,” he said.
The NURC report also indicates that 98 percent of respondents from a research said they were proud to be referred to as Rwandan, instead of being identified along ethnic identities.
Rucyahana disclosed that a book that explains Rwanda’s history has been published by the commission, noting that on various occasions, the country’s history has been distorted.
He pointed out the challenges to reconciliation, including delayed compensation of Genocide survivors, poverty, irresponsible local leaders and low understanding of the Commission’s activities and other government programmes.
The Bishop, however, observed that unity and reconciliation is a process that needs consistent education, sensitization and partnership with other institutions, saying it is not exclusive to NURC only.