Building the Capacity for Peace After Genocide: The Reconstruction of Formal Education in Rwanda




Njanga, Laura Bryant

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In the aftermath of a civil war or genocide, some non-governmental organizations (NGOs), peace educators, post-conflict development practitioners, and governments believe in the healing power of providing all school-age children and young people with equal access to formal education. Under these circumstances, education is perceived as a peace-building and life-saving protection mechanism. Education for all, according to advocates, can also contribute to the reconstruction of nations torn apart by identity-based conflicts. The post-genocide government of Rwanda has looked to formal education as a peace-building tool in their national reconstruction. As such, they have prioritized the rebuilding of their national education system in order to fight poverty, combat prejudice, and, most importantly, build national unity amongst Rwanda’s three major ethnic groups in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide and civil war. This thesis utilizes archival research and theories supported from the fields of conflict analysis and resolution and peace studies. This exploratory study presents the case in favor of the educational reconstruction process in post-genocide Rwanda, under specific conditions. Educational reconstruction is interpreted as a peace-building mechanism, due to its capacity to reach the largest number of civil society actors across conflict groups through a common human development resource—education. The study further argues that structural reforms in the national education system can help reduce animosities, foster cooperation, ensure capacity building, and promote civil society participation between the government and civil society, and particularly amongst citizens of Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa descent. It is demonstrated throughout this study that the outcome of the educational reconstruction process depends on its conditions, how it is engineered, by whom, and the availability of necessary resources.



Educational reconstruction, Post-genocidal Rwanda, Post-conflict development, Peace education, Education for peace, Conflict resolution