Peace education in Rwandan secondary schools: Coping with contradictory messages

AUTHORS: Jean de Dieu Basabose, Heli Habyarimana
PUBLISHER: Aegis Trust

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Since the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, Rwanda has engaged in devising strategies to reconstruct the country and to ensure a sustainable peaceful future. Programmes and models have been developed and implemented to equip citizens with knowledge, skills and tools to eradicate the traumatic legacy of the recent Rwandan history, marked by multifaceted violence and its after-effects. However, the persistence of hatred, divisions and genocide ideology has been identified as still being present in the country.

Education has been expected to play a prominent role in promoting a pro-peace mindset among school children, who would then act as agents of change in both the present and future generations. That is the reason why peace and values education was explicitly included in the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) implemented since 2016, and detailed in practical learning competences that all students should acquire and practice.

This study explores how, during its implementation, the curriculum peace content has faced challenges linked with the content itself, its implementers and the environment in which it has to evolve. The research focuses on how students take different sources of information and how they respond to messages contradictory to the curriculum peace content taught at school. The research shows how messages contradictory to the curriculum peace content were moulded in families and/or among peers outside the school. The students and teachers demonstrated three possible responses: they either accepted the contradictory messages, rejected them, or in a large number of the cases, articulated an inability to make a clear-cut decision between the curriculum content and the other content contradictory to it. This difficulty to handle these contradictory messages may constitute a risk to the achievement of the expected outcomes of the programme.

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