Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Belgian teachers learned the practice of teaching genocide related lessons from Rwandan teachers

Belgian teachers who came in Rwanda from March 2 to March 9, 2019; for an educative visit aiming to know more about genocide against Tutsis which happened in 1994, learned more from their Rwandan counterparts on how they can teach lessons related to genocide to their students.

The main objective when they planned this visit was to teach Belgian teachers how to teach genocide against Tutsis in a more complete way, said Yann Lelangue, Instructor of ‘RCN Justice et Democratie’ in Belgium, who headed this delegation.

“It’s important to have good information, to come on site and see how you Rwandans, you get to talk about this genocide while you lived it yourself, and you managed to tackle heavy topics like that in your classes, ” added Mr. Lelangue.

Rwandan teachers shared their experience in teaching genocide related lessons. Jean Damascene Nyirinkwaya teaches history and citizenship at ‘Groupe scholaire officiel de Butare’, he says that before it was not that easy; but then they got different trainings intended to encourage history teachers to address genocide issues in classes; also, they sometimes have to bring students to visit genocide memorial sites as teaching materials.

“Before meeting teachers, students and actors in the field, we had very theoretical knowledge,” said Cecile Schaack, one of history teachers on the Belgian delegation. This exchange allows us to root in the real everything we have read, to evolve in perception of all this and to make the link between what we know about other genocide like the Jewish one and others, added Ms. Schaack.

Some advice and proposals were given.

“I can say that you still have the chance to be the living witness of the story of genocide against Tutsis, for us the problem is to teach the story of genocides whose witnesses are endangered.” Said Philippe Lenette, the oldest of the Belgian delegation and professor member of the team in charge of projects for citizens and memorial at his school at Liege, Belgium.

Mr. Lenette says that what was learned from their Rwandan counterparts they will apply it to their schools. He then gives some advice to the way he thinks the heritage of Rwandan history can be protected.

Mr. Lenette said “I think it’s very important for every Rwandan, regardless of age, young and old to really work on his story, to know his past history, to build his story to come; The story will continue to be written and the people who lived the genocide must absolutely testify and in writing to leave a trace. And by the schools to ensure that young people are fully aware of what has happened so that they never cry again here or elsewhere.”

The headmistress of ‘Ecole Notre Dame de la Providence de Karubanda’, one among three schools that hosted the Belgian delegation, Sr. Philomena Nyirahuku was happy about fruitful exchanges. She thanked the Belgian teachers for their determination to know the true story behind genocide against Tutsis of Rwanda and for their commitment of teaching it to their students.

“If we don’t embrace our history, our wounds will not heal.” Said Sr. Nyirahuku talking about the importance of Rwandans to talk about their own history. Both parts say to have benefited from these exchanges and vow to take others’ example on how to well teach the story surrounding genocides.

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