Rwanda Peace Education Program Moves Closer to Integration into National Curriculum

Wed, 12/31/2014 - 5:00pm

Rwanda Peace Education Program (RPEP) hosted the second Forum of Educational Stakeholders on Peace Education on Dec. 9, 2014. Member of Parliament Christine Muhongayire and Dr. Joyce Musabe, Executive Secretary for the Rwanda Education Board were among the dignitaries who joined RPEP partners, Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (Sida) representatives and other education stakeholders to discuss progress made in line with the integration of Peace Education in the Rwandan school curriculum.

RPEP, supported by Sida 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.

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. The Institute’s contribution to RPEP is educational outreach through IWitness. Classroom pilots are currently being held in schools across the country to introduce students and teachers to IWitness as a tool to teach about genocide.

Since November 2013, the Ministry of Education has been undertaking the process of reviewing the national curriculum. RPEP partners had already set up a Pedagogical Committee comprising of members of civil society and the education authorities to assess the state of peace education in the current curriculum and make recommendations on content and methodologies that could improve the teaching of peace education in formal education.

Dr. Joyce Musabe opened the meeting saying: “Allow me to remind us that since 2013 Aegis Trust, IRDP, Radio La Benevolencija and USC Shoah Foundation have been implementing a 3 year programme “RPEP” to promote teaching of empathy and critical thinking among us Rwandans. I would like to commend the efforts of the pedagogical committee composed of specialists to help us achieve the objective of including peace education in the new curriculum.”

The Pedagogical Committee led by IRDP produced policy recommendations based on the expertise of the four organizations and the field knowledge gathered through teacher trainings, school workshops in Kigali and during outreach community visits using different education media (exhibitions, live and testimonies, audiovisual material, radio drama, debates and dialogues, art workshops…). 

The pedagogical committee’s collaboration with REB during the curriculum review process was to shape content and methodologies to be shared with schools. After assessing the weakness of the existing curriculum, the committee met on a regular basis since January 2013 and worked hard to try and fill this gap. This has led to a proposal on how peace education in schools can be improved. The draft curriculum now includes peace education as a cross-cutting subject because the committee thought that the best way was to teach peace education in several subjects instead of making it a separate subject.

Christine Muhongayire MP, Member of the Parliamentary Education Commission, also attended the event and said: “Time has come to integrate peace education in our formal education. But peace culture is not about formal education only but about all stakeholders working together. The first step is therefore to include peace education in our curriculum and the details can be further improved. The reality is that peace education can be infused in any lesson.”

Citing the example of Grace, an eight year old Hutu girl who took the responsibility to save a Tutsi baby orphan during the genocide and raise her as her own child, and whose story is part of the RPEP Mobile Exhibition, she added that: “Sharing such histories of other children’s courage and use of own judgment in difficult times help building the culture of peace at an early age”.

Ensuring recognition of peace education as a way to increase social cohesion through the promotion of empathy and critical thinking amongst Rwandans, and it is an objective achieved by RPEP partners. Dr Musemakweri John, Director of IRDP, Dr Shyaka Aggee, IRDP Facilitor for the Curriculum review process, Dr Erasme Rwanamiza, Education Director for Aegis Trust and Anita Kayirangwa, RPEP Manager presented in detail the process, the content and methodologies proposed to decision makers to achieve the inclusion of peace education in the school curriculum currently under review.

The next steps are the confirmation of the new curriculum and the training of teachers in the use of the new curriculum. Once again, RPEP partners will stand ready to support education institutions in the promotion of peace education as a content, a methodology and a culture.