A total of 31,595 government-sponsored students have so far gone through the civic education programme known as Ingando in the last nine years, statistics at the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) reveal.
The programme, developed by the commission to encourage coexistence within communities, is organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
The training that was instituted in 1999 in Gishari, Eastern Province has since been moved to the Northern Province where permanent camp has been built.
According to the commission’s communications officer, Adeline Muhoza, the programme has been instrumental in changing the mindset of the youth.
“Lessons taught during these trainings range from teaching the youth to fight divisionism that has characterised Rwanda in the past, the Rwandan cultural values, the history of Rwanda, to being taught avoiding the Genocide ideology which has helped in the unity and reconciliation of Rwandans,” explained Muhoza.
In ancient Rwanda, Ingando was used to reflect on, and find solutions to national challenges.
According to officials at NURC, Ingando were first developed by the military in ancient Rwanda. It was a well-entrenched practice. As Rwanda sank deeper into postcolonial conflict, the institution of Ingando lost its relevance and was no longer practiced.
Indications show that Ingando has had a very big impact on the young people who have undergone these trainings over the years since they were initiated.
“If you compare young people that have undergone the Ingando and those that haven’t, you see a very big knowledge gap between them most especially when it comes to understanding government policies,” observes Muhoza.
University students are not the only beneficiaries of this programme as it also includes ex - combatants from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), informal traders, and other social groups including survivors, prisoners, community leaders and women.