The Aegis Trust through its Research, Policy and Higher Education programme hosted a research for policy seminar at the Kigali Genocide Memorial on Wednesday, 19 December 2018. The event was on policy-relevant findings in the working paper conducted by Dr. Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo, who recently authored a deeply researched paper on Identification and Critique of the Citizenship Notion Informing the Itorero Training Scheme for High School Leavers in Post-Genocide Rwanda. The event was attended by academics, representatives from the National Itorero Commission and practitioners.
Citizenship education is an ongoing process of teaching and sharing cultural values mostly for the post genocide governance. Itorero citizenship education programme is one of the initiatives that are in place to train Rwandans into becoming patriotic citizens and engage in the country’s development process. Dr. Sylvestre who conducted a research on citizenship notion among intore (those who have gone through the Itorero), shared his findings with the participants who engaged him in a pluralistic discussion around key findings and specific choice of words. Among the key findings, he noted that according to the Itorero training, a good citizen is one who obeys the law, is loyal to the state, is a role model, preservers the community’s common good and respects the community’s core values.
After his presentation, Dr. Philbert Gakwenzire gave a few insights on the findings presented. He noted that the term “post genocide” is more than just a period and does not necessarily refer to the question of dates. He also stated that there has to be a nexus between learning, research and the impact made in the community.
We had an engagement with knowledge session where the audience gave constructive feedback and asked questions. Among the questions asked included the gender aspects of Itorero since traditionally Itorero was meant for boys; the issue of teen pregnancies; how the questionnaire was translated in Kinyarawanda; if the research put into consideration the socio-economic status of the respondents; and if the phrase “loyal to the state” had been broken down and explained further because in the past, we have had injustices done by people who were uncritically loyal to the state. The participants also gave pointers which would be considered in a follow up research. They also stated the need for research to be conducted with an academic and non-academic perspective with enough details of its impact as much as initiatives on establishing relationship of citizenship on an interdisciplinary approach.
Towards the end, a representative from the National Itorero Commission gave constructive feedback on the paper. He also thanked Aegis Trust for holding such sessions that bring together researchers and policy makers. He further challenged researchers to create their own space and that way, policy makers would have no option but make room for them, as they need their findings to inform policies. To prove his point, he went ahead and requested Dr. Sylvestre for meeting to discuss further on his findings and see ways of improving the Itorero programme and making it more impactful.