Kigali, April 23, 2010 (FH) - Sixteen years after the 1994 genocide which left over 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, Rwandans have now started contemplating about teaching genocide history to the young generation in primary and secondary schools. Such initiative has already been introduced at the university level.

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But taking into consideration the complex nature of Rwandan genocide itself and the possibility of fuelling genocide ideology and hatred among the three ethnic groups in the country, thus Hutus, Tutsis and the Twaa, reasonable precautions have to be taken before the actual implementation of the program.

‘'The problem is how do we do it, do we have specialists, do we have enough teaching materials, are we out of genocide consequences?'' Professor Paul Rutayisire of the National University of Rwanda pointed out during an interview with Hirondelle News Agency.

The interview was conducted towards the end of the International Symposium on ‘'16th years after genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi. Handling its Consequences'' held at Serena Hotel in Kigali between April 4-6, in which the subject of ‘'teaching history of genocide'' also featured.

He acknowledges ‘' genocide has many aspects which are very mysterious. You cannot understand how your neighbour can suddenly be your killer.''

He emphasizes ‘'I agree that all information on genocide cannot be put or shown to the younger generation. We have to be selective, we have to be careful and we have to consult psychologists and sociologists.''

‘'Let us think about methodology and the contents first without doing any harm,'' he says, opting for participatory method of teaching as the best choice for such a program. The Professor says this method would stimulate student's ability to talk about genocide and ventilate their ideas which in turn would make them better understand what happened. ‘'If you talk about it, you feel relieved and healing process can take place,'' he advises. 

Asked about how to collect materials in terms of teaching contents and mode of teaching such a sensitive subject, Professor Rutayisire responds; ‘' It has to be interdisciplinary mode. I would need help from pedagogues and psychologists who know how to handle such a complex scenario. I alone as historian can possibly do harm. But together with my colleagues, we can achieve the objectives.''

He says negative ideology often posted in various web sites such has ‘'all Hutus are killers'' or ‘'all Tutsis are survivors'' must be confronted with correct versions.

‘'We have no ready made answers to such problems. It will take time,'' Professor Rutayisire says in response to the question on how long will it take before teaching of genocide in schools commences.

The Registrar of Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), Ngabirame Augustine supports Professor Rutayisire's contribution about the approach of teaching genocide in Rwandans schools.

He says before the final decision is taken on the issue there should be nation-wide debate to collect ideas about what should be taught.

‘'We need to harmonize our ideas before we decide what to teach our children. We need to have consensus,'' he insisted.


© Hirondelle News Agency