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From Discrimination to Peace in Rwandan Classrooms

In 1994 Rwanda saw a mass slaughter of the Tutsi community at the hands of the dominant Hutus. Approximately 800,000 were killed in only 100 days. The mass slaughtered was encouraged by the government and ethnic tensions. However, education had a huge role to play in this matter as well. It was used to instigate hate, intolerance and fear. The biased curriculum and teaching ideologies solidified ethnic differences within classrooms and promoted genocide ideology.

After the Genocide Rwanda faced the massive task of rebuilding its education system. There was a lack of teachers, school infrastructure had been destroyed, the textbooks available could lead to another conflict, lack of funds and 1000s of orphaned kids in need of education. Hence, in 1995, a ban was placed on history textbooks which promoted biased information, as the new government tried to figure out how and to what extent the past could be incorporated in the education system, without causing a conflict again.

In the period immediately after the Genocide, the history curriculum lightly touched on the topic of the genocide to protect the upcoming generation from the dark past. Curriculum that promoted unity, peace, tolerance and justice was taught. In 2008 the Rwanda National Curriculum Development Centre released the new history curriculum which taught the Genocide. However, the new curriculum focused on unifying and inclusive qualities of nationality, citizenship and patriotism.

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