The Ministry of Education has ordered all schools in the country to organise a one-day event to pay tribute to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
While commemoration was being observed at different levels in the education sector — mainly secondary schools and universities — a number of primary schools and other private schools established after 1994 have not been observing commemoration, instead choosing to join others at either national or local levels.
The instructions, which were released on March 26 as students were breaking for a few weeks holidays, required all schools, both public and private, to dedicate at least one day out of 100 days of commemoration across the country and remember victims at their respective schools or communities.
The directives noted the role of schools to prevent genocide, urging and cautioning students to distance themselves from genocide ideology while emphasising on the meaning and purpose of commemoration — respect to victims and heroism of former Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) soldiers and protectors of friendship pact (Abarinzi b’Igihango).
State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Isaac Munyakazi stated that directives are for all schools across the country.
“This is a reminder to all schools that commemoration is for everyone. There are schools, which have not been doing it and we want them to find a day from 100 and honour victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” said Mr Munyakazi.
“Even if some schools might have been established after 1994, during the commemoration, they might need to work with nearby local government officials and find people to give presentation and testimonies on the history of the Genocide against Tutsis,” said added Mr Munyakazi.
The minister further asked school officials to work together with health centres and Red Cross to offer any medical support in case of trauma incidences during the commemoration day at schools.
Commenting on the directives, Esperance Ntawunozabino, head teacher of Kigali Harvest School, told Rwanda Today that her school had put in place all what is required to observe the vigil night for the first time in the school’s compound.
“Our school was founded in 2000 and we only have primary and kindergarten. We heard of the directives and we have entered a phase of searching for individuals who will give presentations. This activity is for everyone and our school can’t be left behind,” she said.
According to the National Commission for Fight against Genocide (CNLG), the presentations will include the history of the genocide, prevention and discussions on how to combat genocide ideology, denial and impunity in and outside Rwanda.
Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, the chief executive of CNLG, had earlier told journalists that this year’s commemoration seeks to bring together students and writers who have done extensive research on genocide against Tutsis to discuss how the genocide was planned, executed and reflect on healing process.
“We are looking forward to convening those researchers and students at every level of education — primary, secondary and even tertiary — under what I may call Literary Café for discussion and presentations since we think it might encourage more writings in future,” he said.