Transforming Rwanda into a cohesive community
Cyprien Tabaro, Rolf Wiessems, and Gary Mills
The Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) is a renowned institution of higher learning whose main objective is to train and produce qualified teachers for secondary schools.
Teachers trained at KIE have to be exemplary in their daily duties bearing in their mind that Rwandan children need education that gives them life skills and an essence of living together as a nation.
Taking this into account the results of the parliament commission set last year to enquire on genocide ideologies, which were said to be propagated in secondary schools in Rwanda at a high speed, KIE started thinking of ways through which such ideologies can be stopped or completely eradicated. Subsequently, cooperation with the University of Nottingham, a project entitled “DELPHE PROJECT-Education for Community Cohesion” was initiated.
This three-year project will give both students and staff the opportunity to exchange views on the causes of genocide, how sensitive issues like genocide and holocaust, and how they can be dealt with in the teaching profession.
The project mainly brings together teacher trainees from the University of Nottingham’s School of Education and students from Kigali Institute of Education and aims at developing teachers who can employ a range of pedagogies to promote community cohesion in both formal and non-formal educational settings.
Works conducted through this project will also enhance peace and civil education in both Rwanda and UK and in particular explore issues concerning genocide education.
Supported by their tutors and lecturers, participants will develop teaching methods for community cohesion through curriculum development.
The project is not limited to Kigali Institute of Education and Nottingham University, but also extends to other partnerships, such as between the Kigali Memorial Centre in Rwanda and the National Holocaust Centre Beth Shalom in the UK.
And this is not all, other Rwandan institutions like the Rwandan Commission against Genocide, the Rwandan Commission of Unity and Reconciliation may also get involved.
The overall goal of these initiatives is to play a key role in fighting ideologies that destroy people’s unity and cohabitation. This is because unity and reconciliation are part of ongoing nation building through various governments and non-governmental organisations` work.
The project has started of with students studying History at Kigali Institute of Education. However, the project envisages to have included a wider variety of teacher trainees doing different subjects like geography, languages, science and other subjects.
Through these exchanges, trainees will learn and acquire positive ways of dealing with sensitive issues they encounter in their teaching sessions.
This will be of great help in a country like Rwanda, where after 14 years of the Genocide Against the Tutsi, where people still have difficulties in tackling genocide related topics while teaching or delivering public speeches at different memorial ceremonies.
These days, some teachers in Rwanda decide not to teach genocide related and other sensitive issues because they lack knowledge on how to deal with such issues and because they think that students can get traumatized, or teachers fail to control the class tensions.
Students from Kigali Institute of Education and those from the School of Education at Nottingham University are now working together and have started exchanging views on ways to develop appropriate pedagogies for teaching about sensitive issues such as the holocaust or the Tutsi Genocide of 1994.
To facilitate people involved in this project, information and communication technologies will be used to link them via video conferencing, blogging, chatroom, and internet and Moodle facilities whenever possible.
KIE students` expectations on this project are high. These include learning and acquiring relevant skills to teach sensitive issues, discuss them instead of avoiding them; sharing with Nottingham students information on Tutsi genocide in Rwanda and other moral and African sensitive issues and making a positive effect on both KIE and the entire population in changing behaviours since a teacher is a model in the society and a moral agent meeting a lot of people in the society.
They also hope that the information obtained through the project will create a lot of opportunities to think about their mission after studies, and make them open- minded and that they will acquire a positive sense of critical history, and make them more interested in pursuing further studies.
The rural population will also get benefits from this project. In cooperation with Kigali memorial centre agents, mobile exhibition will be organised to help rural population get the essence of what is community cohesion and how it can be achieved. People will get to express on some sensitive issues, and if possible competitions will be organised and the gunners rewarded, especially in secondary schools where clubs of unity and reconciliation, clubs against genocide ideologies operate.
Through Delphe Project- Education for Community cohesion, we hope that Rwandans will open ways leading to a cohesive community, where there is a common vision and a sense of belonging for different communities, where strong and positive relationships are developed between people from different backgrounds in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods.
In such a cohesive community, peaceful environment will get created, where there is ‘mutual respect and appreciation of the similarities and differences that make people unique.’