The experiences of Rwandan secondary schools' history teachers in teaching the genocide against the Tutsi and its related controversial issues.
Buhigiro, Jean Leonard.
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After the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, a moratorium was placed on the teaching of history in Rwandan secondary schools. This was done because the subject was considered as one of the causes of the Genocide. When reintroduced the subject contained content related to the Genocide. This study was motivated by the idea of understanding the experiences of Rwandan secondary schools’ history teachers on teaching the Genocide against the Tutsi and its related controversial issues. This study adopted a qualitative approach with a sample of seven history teachers from across Rwanda. A range of research methods, including drawings, photo-elicitation, semi-structured interviews and self-interviews, were used for gathering the data for this thesis. It was found that the commencement of teaching the Genocide was a daunting task which inspired fear and anxiety. This was due to the fact that the Genocide is a recent event and the wounds are still fresh in the minds of both teachers and learners who were affected in one way or another by the event. Due to the sensitivity of the topic the participating teachers, as stipulated by the curriculum, hardly used the participatory approach. Equally, parents feared talking to learners about certain topics related to the Genocide. The overarching reasoning being to prevent hatred ideas, that could contradict the official version of the history of the Genocide, from finding its way into classrooms. Consequently, teachers were more inclined to use teacher centred methods and comply with the curricula and official version of the history of the Genocide. This was done so as to educate patriots capable of preventing genocide, and promote unity and harmonious living. Moreover, the prevalence of teacher centred methods led the teacher to avoid the actual Genocide by focusing on topics such as the pre- and post-colonial histories of Rwanda. In the teaching process, a range of issues including the content, the curriculum, the collaboration with parents and the teaching methods have been identified as controversial. Issues such as, for example, the double genocide theory and the naming of the Genocide were considered as controversial. Additionally, certain vi resources such as films proved to be inappropriate because they traumatised learners. Consequently learners’ emotions also hindered the achievement of the stated aims as most of the teachers lacked the ability to deal with such situations. Evidence from teachers’ experiences indicated that most controversial issues were actually raised by the learners. In the analysis process, the theoretical framework on teaching controversial issues by Stradling (1984) and other scholars did not totally fit the Rwandan context. Some specific positions, such as playing devil’s advocate and risk-taking, were avoided for not propagating Genocide denial or divisive ideas. Instead alongside indoctrination and stated commitment, compliance for self-care emerged as the best explanation for why the history teachers taught the Genocide and its related controversial issues the way they did.