Correcting history: mandatory education in Rwanda

Article English OPEN
Melvin, Jennifer

The potential success of the Rwandan government’s efforts to promote its vision of ‘national reconciliation’ is purportedly challenged by the ‘mindset, bad behaviour, bad practices’ of the general population of Rwanda.[1] As such, the education remit of the post-genocide reconciliation programme is an ambitious project that ‘…requires every citizen to change their mind completely’.[2] This article seeks to analyse how the Rwandan Patriotic Front government intends to ‘correct’ the mindsets and behaviours of the population at live-in education camps: ingando and itorero ry’igihugu. It also analyses the textbook, Histoire du Rwanda: des origines à la fin du xxe siècle, published by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in 2011. This article considers the ways in which a restrictive top-down pedagogy affects the potential for open discussion and critical analysis of issues relevant to the 1994 genocide, identity, and ‘national reconciliation’ at ingando and itorero ry’igihugu camps.  It also provides a detailed analysis of the ‘victor’s narrative’ of history as described in Histoire du Rwanda. This article concludes by considering the implications of the official reconciliation programme’s education remit on political control in Rwanda. [1] NURC, ‘Understanding Itorero Ry’igihugu’ (Kigali: NURC, 2011a), p.1 [2] NURC, ‘National Policy of Unity and Reconciliation’ (Kigali: NURC, 2007), p.1.
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    41 references, page 1 of 5

    10 Notes taken by author while attending ingando (Ruhengeri: Peace and Leadership Centre, 3 June 2009).

    11 The young people in attendance at this particular ingando camp were preparing to begin their university studies shortly after the conclusion of the mandatory six-week course.

    12 Gerald Nyirimanzi is now a Major in the RDF.

    13 hTe term Banyarwanda refers to the national identity of all Rwandans.

    14 Notes taken by author while attending ingando (Rugengeri: Peace and Leadership Centre, 3 June 2009).

    15 Fatuma Ndangiza, 'Community Sensitization: Case of “Ingando” in Rwanda' (Kigali: International Conference on Security and Lasting Peace in the Great Lakes Region Africa, 2003), 7.

    16 ibid.

    17 Chi Mgbako, 'Ingando Solidarity Camps: Reconciliation and Political Indoctrination in Post-Genocide Rwanda', in Harvard Human Rights Journal 18 (2005), 208.

    18 ibid.

    19 The GNU was formed as a transitional coalition government on 19 July 1994, fifteen days after the oficial end of the 1994 genocide. It remained in power until the 2003 elections in which the incumbent Paul Kagame was named President of the Republic.

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