The Educators’ Institute for Human Rights in Rwanda was a three-day conference from July 31st through August 2nd, 2011 that provided 30 Rwandan teachers with an in-depth study of the Holocaust, the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, the genocide in Darfur, and the power of educators to repair the world. The primary goal of the workshop was to provide high quality professional development for Rwandan educators, so that they might in turn, cultivate the educational leadership skills in their students that are so vital to the health of their country—and by extension, to Africa and the world.
Working in conjunction with the Kigali Genocide Memorial the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center (ISGC), with support from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the conference was held between July 31st-August 1st, 2011 at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Participants heard Rwandan presenters, internationally known speakers such as Carl Wilkens, as well as receive books and materials on the Holocaust, Rwanda, and Darfur. Part of the experience was spent on location examining the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. Housing, travel stipends, and modest meals were made possible by the conference sponsors.
As a culminating experience, participants were asked to reflect upon the importance of their role as educators, and what their action plan using these materials will be. After, they were asked to fill out a survey and assess how a subsequent conference the following year could be enhanced and improved. To that end, Rwandan teachers who attended the conference will be encouraged to come forward to help plan a similar event for the following year. It is also expected that participants will stay in touch through email, receiving online in-service updates, and information from our sponsors as well.
Comments from Teacher Participants
- "I saw that this conference was very needed and I wish it could be attended by all teachers of History throughout the country."
- "If you have a future event, will you invite us to participate again because we are happy and willing to improve our knowledge? I would repeat it as many times as I could."
- "The goal has been reached 100%. Through this wonderful conference we became more responsible in building peace around the world using education as an important tool."
About Teaching The History Of The 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi:
- "This seminar was able to remove fear from us as participants about how to teach about genocide."
- "I know how I can teach the pupils of different experiences about genocide."
- "I will take the opportunity to used bad events in the past and turn them into opportunities to make the future bright for my students.".
- "I know my contribution is important in the reconciliation process of the country. I know that I am a nation builder."
About Teaching The History Of The Holocaust:
- "The Holocaust is really touching. Most of us don’t know the history, so Now I’ll be the one to teach it."
- "I’ll be teaching about the Holocaust by giving illustrated examples."
- "Now I will tell the story of Irena Sendler and the Holocaust."
- "Personally, I appreciated everything in general and this conference was really fruitful and interesting, especially sharing different experiences of the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide."
- "I was happy to get more teaching methods and ideas about how to teach about the Holocaust and genocide studies."
On How The Conference Affected Their View Of Themselves As Professionals:
- " I will take the opportunity to used bad events in the past and turn them into opportunities to make the future bright for my students."
- "I will be a role model of positive values."
- "Courage is needed to teach hard subjects related to the genocide and a good example is needed worldwide by all teachers."
- "Now I feel I can explain the truth to help my students build the future."
- "I will organize a remembrance ceremony in my community."
Items The Participants Would Like To See In Future Conferences:
- "Increase the days of the event. Make it 40 hours."
- "Increase the amount of teachers that can attend. it is very crucial to allow a great number of Rwandans to access such an important conference. Increase the amount of headmasters as well."
- "As teachers, we need DVD’s and computers (laptops) and projectors to allow our students to see what happened in different genocides."
- "If possible, please give us the cheapest computer for being able to teacher well, as well as a flash disk."
- "Visiting other memorial sites with the group to see what happened around Rwanda ."
Follow-Up That Participants Would Like To See After The Conference:
- "In the future, use the trained teachers to train other teachers in different districts in order to cover the whole country."
- "We need to form our Association as we have Never Again Clubs in all Rwandan schools. Our aim and target is to help our colleagues who weren’t here and students about what we have learned."
- "I’d like to suggest to EIHR to prepare a conference each year if possible with the same theme and topics and to have a youth conference as well."