The speed and scale of the Rwandan genocide are difficult to understand. In the space of a hundred days, in 1994, more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, and more than a million lives were lost as a result of the conflict. Many died at the hands of people they knew, as groups loyal to assassinated President Juvenal Habyarimana stoked political divisions along ethnic lines and communities turned against themselves.
As Rwanda continues to rebuild itself, many saw a vital role for education in combating division. In 2015, Rwanda integrated education for peace and values (PVE) into its national secondary school curriculum. PVE uses a variety of techniques to help students develop critical thinking, leadership skills, and empathy.
Since March 2020, Dr Nicola Palmer, Senior Lecturer in Law, and Dr Felix Ndahinda have led a team of eminent Rwandan social scientists on the project funded by the British Academy Research-led Peace Education as Crisis Prevention in Central Africa, to assess and further develop the teaching materials used in high schools across Rwanda.
Dr Nicola Palmer said: “After mapping the full range of PVE teaching materials used in Rwandan schools and informal settings, we have developed model lesson plans which are informed by current research from the project team. on post-conflict reconstruction. These model lesson plans are designed to enable learners to discuss socially sensitive topics in a supported and safe environment.
The model lesson plans will be included on a new platform, Ubumuntu, developed by the civil society project partner, Aegis Trust. The platform provides access to educational materials currently in use in 4,300 schools across the country.
Dr Palmer: “This workshop builds on two previous reflective discussions with Rwandan learners, teachers, academics and policymakers, including the participation of the Rwanda Education Council (REB) and the new Ministry of Education. National Unity and Civic Engagement (Ubumwe). It focuses on what the experience of the Rwandan context can bring to similar PVE interventions in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The current project builds on a long-term collaboration between Aegis Trust, King’s College London and SOAS, University of London.
In 2014, the Aegis Trust established its Research, Policy and Higher Education (RPHE) program under the leadership of Dr Felix Ndahinda and Professor Phil Clark, with Dr Palmer appointed as one of the international advisers. RPHE is committed to supporting Rwandan authors, through funding, training and peer mentoring, to publish high quality, peer-reviewed research with the aim of amplifying voices Rwandans in international academic debates through the social sciences. To date, the program has resulted in the publication of 17 peer-reviewed journal articles and four book chapters. Read together, this published work calls for a reorientation of the literature on post-genocide Rwanda, which has been characterized by a strong focus on the domination of the Rwandan state in the ordering of social relations, drawing attention to the need to focus on the interfamily. and the intergenerational legacies of conflict, changes in household dynamics and changes in citizens’ relations with the state.
With the support of the UK Department for International Development (DfID), the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the British Academy, the RPHE program has mentored 44 Rwandan researchers in the social and human sciences, who hold positions in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government departments and higher education institutions.
Seven of these Rwandan researchers are involved in the current project, namely Dr Felix Ndahinda, Ms Sandra Shenge, Dr Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo, Dr Mediatrice Kagaba, Dr Jean Leonard Buhigira, Mr Heli Habyarimana and Dr Glorieuse Uwizeye. The design of additional teaching materials for high schools incorporates lessons from the cutting-edge work of these researchers available on the Genocide Research Hub.
On Friday, December 10, 2021, the results of the project will be discussed alongside comparative perspectives on genocide prevention educational work in an international online workshop hosted by Aegis Trust. To attend the event, please register here.