Correcting history: mandatory education in Rwanda

Jennifer Melvin


Abstract


The potential success of the Rwandan government’s efforts to promote its vision of ‘national reconciliation’ is purportedly challenged by the ‘mindset, bad behaviour, bad practices’ of the general population of Rwanda.[1] As such, the education remit of the post-genocide reconciliation programme is an ambitious project that ‘…requires every citizen to change their mind completely’.[2] This article seeks to analyse how the Rwandan Patriotic Front government intends to ‘correct’ the mindsets and behaviours of the population at live-in education camps: ingando and itorero ry’igihugu. It also analyses the textbook, Histoire du Rwanda: des origines à la fin du xxe siècle, published by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in 2011. This article considers the ways in which a restrictive top-down pedagogy affects the potential for open discussion and critical analysis of issues relevant to the 1994 genocide, identity, and ‘national reconciliation’ at ingando and itorero ry’igihugu camps.  It also provides a detailed analysis of the ‘victor’s narrative’ of history as described in Histoire du Rwanda. This article concludes by considering the implications of the official reconciliation programme’s education remit on political control in Rwanda.


[1] NURC, ‘Understanding Itorero Ry’igihugu’ (Kigali: NURC, 2011a), p.1

[2] NURC, ‘National Policy of Unity and Reconciliation’ (Kigali: NURC, 2007), p.1.


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