Ministry ponders sacking them
About 60 teachers of Jehovah Witnesses’ religious attachment who refused to attend Ingando for both primary and secondary schools across the country may face the axe, the State Minister for primary and secondary education, Théoneste Mutsindashyaka has said.
Over 40,000 teachers in both primary and
secondary schools countrywide last week completed a seventeen-day solidarity camp organised under the auspices of Itorero ry’Igihugu, a national informal education programme.
“Teachers who willingly refused to attend will be dismissed if investigations reveal they shunned on grounds that Ingando was contrary to their religious beliefs,” said Mutsindashyaka. Ingando is a Rwandan initiative to promote unity and reconciliation and discuss national development issues.
Mutsindashyaka noted that he has deployed people to investigate the matter and vowed that if it emerges that their refusal to attend was based on their religious attachment, tough measures would be taken.
For those who failed to attend due to different family or individual problems, the minister said: their case is well understood and the ministry has no problem with them.
When contacted, a senior official at Jehovah Witnesses’ offices in Remera distanced their sect from teachings which discourage members from abiding by government policies.
He referred this reporter to the book of Mathew 22: 21 which states that “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and God what belongs to God”.
“I believe it was their individual decisions based on conscience and their level of maturity regarding spiritual matters,” the official, who was found at the main headquarters of the religion said, although he declined to reveal his identity. He said that the people who have authority to speak on behalf of the religion do not live in Rwanda.
Jehovah witnesses are a religious grouping with several million of members around the world. They do not have churches, but have what is known as Kingdom Halls. Their congregations are grouped in small communities, usually numbering less than two hundred.
Several cases have come up over followers of the religion who shun government initiatives. Last year some Jehovah witnesses refused to have their homes sprayed during the anti-malaria campaign.