Rwanda Peace Education Program Launches

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 5:17pm

Aegis Trust Rwanda, The Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace, Radio La Benevolencija and USC Shoah Foundation - the Institute for Visual History and Education are proud to announce the launching of the Rwanda Peace Education Programme.

At the onset of the 20th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against Tutsi in Rwanda, it is important to note that Rwanda is still going through a recovery process. The country inherited a population that had gone through great turbulence and was deeply traumatized. There is therefore a need to join hands and contribute towards total healing for this land and educate its people to strive for sustainable peace.

“The work that these four organizations are doing separately, their expertise had to converge to benefit the current generation and generations to come. Sweden is pleased to be part of this programme; we are convinced that combined efforts will lead to greater impact in terms of reducing behavioral risks of genocide”, says Swedish Chargee d’Affaires Maria Håkansson.

The program, supported by the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency in Rwanda for three years, intends to take Peace Education to new heights through relevant activities in Rwanda. A mobile exhibition that will tour 20 different locations around the country over the next three years, radio programming, education and training workshops, archive building, arts events, public debates and performances are planned to directly engage with tens of thousands of Rwandans.

"The USC Shoah Foundation has been working with Aegis Trust in Rwanda since 2007 to help establish the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, an archive of eyewitness testimonies. We will now build on that work for the Rwandan Peace Education Program to advance social cohesion through activities that include archive building and education outreach. Our education outreach will center on IWitness in Rwanda, which will help educators and students acquire the knowledge and critical literacies needed to address the ongoing impact of genocide on the social fabric in Rwanda, to be able to have respectful dialogues about it, and to develop empathy and resilience in order to work toward a healthy society,” said Stephen Smith, Executive Director of USC Shoah Foundation.

 “As we officially launch the programme, I recall what one of the students who visited the Mobile Exhibition in Huye as part of RPEP pilot program on peace building in Rwanda confided to Aegis education team: “I feel more equipped to sensitize my fellow young people to spend more time in what promote unity and love accompanied by actions instead of wasting time in useless ideas.  The best thing I gained is that ‘what connects us is stronger than what divides us.’” This student spotted it right away and I cannot get better words to express what RPEP intends to achieve,” said Freddy Mutanguha, Aegis Trust Country Director.

 “Radio La Benevolencija HTF began working on this project to encourage peace building activities throughout Rwanda, and to support the peace building process in Rwanda through our unique methodology and use of education entertainment, such as the Radio Soap Opera Musekeweya. We foresee this programme providing a new and unique way of looking at peace building, through artistic expression, debates and education. We hope that this programme will contribute to a heightened sense of reconciliation and freedoms within the general population in future year”, said Aimable Twahirwa, Radio La Benevolencija Rwanda Head of Mission.

The Rwanda Peace Education Program has chosen to work directly with influential groups known to drive change within our society. Thus RPEP will work closely with educators, decision-makers and youth. The program will also work with audiences and visitors. These are people who visit Aegis exhibitions, listen to radio and watch television, visit the KGM documentation centre, attend peace room activities at KGM or watch films and participate in debates.  It further extends to those that engage with the programme without ever attending in person, through, for example, online research of the archive, viewing testimony, and reading e-books and other printed material. 

“We hope that the evaluation of this project will ultimately lead to the inclusion of the RPEP’s successes in Rwanda’s National Curriculum,” said Prof. Ruzirabwoba Rwanyindo, the IRDP Director.