Written by Eric Mahoro
The Rwanda’s history of Genocide committed against Tutsi in the 1994 has a profound relationship with Education. The initial ethnic divides that constituted the colonial and post-colonial regimes was made possible through the use of Education. Before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, access to Education was largely determined by the region of origin or the ethnic identity of the parents as opposed to the merit. It is Never Again Rwanda’s (NAR) view that in order to build sustainable peace and development, Education has to be used as a tool for social transformation, and to rebuild unit and peaceful coexistence among the Rwandans.
Education as a cornerstone of change
NAR recognizes that education is a cornerstone in changing the attitudes and behaviors of individuals and this contributes to the attainment of its overall vision. At the same time, it is NAR’s conviction that education is a human right and is a prerequisite for the citizens’ participation in the national development process especially the young ones to access information, increase their knowledge and skills, and ultimately, become responsible citizens able to actively participate in the country’s affairs. In order to contribute meaningfully to Education, NAR included it among its strategic pillars, with a strategic goal to improve the critical thinking skills of youth and community participation towards increasing educational quality and decreasing citizens’ vulnerability to manipulation to commit violent acts. Activities in the Education pillar are designed based on NAR’s mission, vision and experience.
Since 2016, NAR organized annual debate competitions across various secondary schools and universities both from Rwanda, DRC, Uganda and Burundi. In 2012, NAR initiated the use of the public speaking approach to enable the students to research and express themselves about sensitive topics such as managing stereotypes, promoting healing and inclusive commemoration of the Genocide. The Public speaking and exchange evolved across a number of schools in Rwanda and the region enabling students to use critical thinking skills in their daily lives.
The Education Development Center
Moreover, NAR partnered with the Education Development Center (EDC) to implement the Language, Literacy and Learning Initiative (L3) Initiative funded by USAID beginning in 2014. Through this, NAR initiated the first ever Community Literacy Volunteer Program (CLVP) that enabled over 4000 schooling children from over 28 schools in the Bugesera district to attend literacy and numeracy support activities after classroom hours and during school holidays.
To be able to do that, NAR trained over 30 community volunteers who led various literacy centers in rural areas neighboring schools and homes and engage the communities is support children’s access Education. While doing the aforementioned, NAR views Education as a fundamental right and especially literacy skills as key for an open access to information and basic skill for the future generation of the young people.
To continue its involvement in the Education sector on the matters in relation to its vision and mission, NAR will continue to work on the activities promoting critical thinking among youth in schools, promoting the use of arts as expressive methods for healing and youth self-realization, establishing spaces and building skills for open debates as well as increase literacy skills among children in schools.
The writer is Director of Programs (Never Again Rwanda)