Opposite the Kigali Central Business District in Nyarugenge, there is a hill where the Kigali Genocide Memorial (KGM) is built. The memorial is a final resting place of over 250,000 Killed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
Walking through the memorial site, I and my friend stop at the new classrooms build just in front of the amphitheatre. In the classroom, 12 teachers from different schools in Kigali are concluding a teacher training on peace education. Teachers look so engaged. They ask questions to understand and they discuss where necessary. They look energetic and inspired. After the training, each teacher receive a certificate and posters. The posters feature stories of Rwandan peace-makers.
We entered one classrooms to read some of those stories. They are well displayed and printed on large banners. Almost all of them are from people we know or had chance to meet once.
“Our children spend a lot of time with you. They trust you and respect you,” Anita Kayirangwa of Rwanda Peace Education Programme tells the teachers. “We can’t think of people well positioned to talk and teach about peace than you.”
The 12 trainees teach different subject, from chemistry to economics and civics. Intrigued, I wonder why they’re training a chemistry teacher about peace education. I get reminded of a story from survivor, who during the Genocide, was being chased mainly by some of his own students.
“They were chasing me,” he said in a thrilling testimony. “As I was running, I looked behind only to see that they were young people whom I had taught for years.”
Luckily, he was escaped and found a place to hide. He said, “I hid reality but immanent death hit me. I realised that I had only taught those young people maths and not to be men, human.”
As the Ministry of Education rolls out the new school curriculum, peace education is one of new the modules to highlight.
Contrary to others subjects, peace education will not have a specific period of time allocated in the class schedule but it will be cross-curricular. In other words, each teacher is expected to be able to teach the subject in his class.
Ndahima Ruhumuriza Jean Nepo, a facilitator and teacher-trainer at the KGM, reminds me that sustainable peace is build through continued effort. Students will be able to learn about peace and human-shared values throughout all classes, he explains, and age or challenges they face in daily life will be put in consideration.
22 years after the genocide, the new generation did not experience the horror directly. But they experienced its aftermath. Like my friend always say, “the story of Rwanda can’t be told without, importantly, a chapter about the genocide. And the story of genocide is mine and it is yours.”
It is the story of Rwanda – the story of genocide and resilience – that the memorial has been built to preserve.
By pioneering Peace Education, the memorial is transmitting the history, allowing students to learn and understand the consequences and effects of a genocide. And, most importantly, using audio-visual storytelling approach to teach human values and the importance of remembrance to the new generation.
With the new pedagogy, I can only expect to see a generation equipped with knowledge, skills and a proper sense of humanity, to become active citizens and sustainable peacemakers. And we all should be part of the revolution.
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