Genocide Awareness Month

*The following was written by Appolon Gahongayire. The views presented are his own and do not reflect the views of HERC.

Peace and Values Education and its impact on Rwandan society, particularly in the aftermath of the Genocide against the Tutsi.


  • Background and Context

On April 7, 2024, we commemorate 30 years after the darkest chapter in Rwanda’s history. The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi resulted in the loss of over one million lives, and a devastating division that would impact Rwandans for many generations. The scars of this horrific event are still deeply etched in the collective memory of the nation.

However, in the last three decades Rwanda has shown remarkable resilience and determination to rebuild itself by initiating many programs that aim to foster reconciliation and build long-term peace. A significant aspect of this transformation has been the integration of peace and values education into the fabric of Rwandan society.

Based on these needs, Aegis Trust developed and implemented the Peace and Values Education program. Through various projects, three million young people across the country have been provided with the knowledge and skills to overcome the legacy of genocide.

Peace education started as a pilot in 2008 at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This model showcases an interactive methodology, where participants learn by doing, becoming active participants in community healing.

In 2013-2016, the programme expanded to 22 districts. Program partners include the USC Shoah Foundation, Radion la Benevolencija and the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP).

In 2015, the Rwanda Basic Education Board announced the inclusion of Peace and Values Education in Rwanda’s national curriculum. Today, more than three million students enrolled in primary and secondary education in Rwanda are learning to live in harmony and combat discrimination.

  • Peace and Values Education Methodology and Theory

The program revolves around four themes: History, Genocide, Consequences, and Peace Building. While addressing these themes, we emphasize the concepts of critical thinking, empathy, trust, and personal responsibilities which are strengthened through interactive teaching methods.

The program’s objective is to help communities develop skills and attitudes that will have them make positive choices and actions that contribute to peaceful relations in society. At Aegis, we believe that critical thinking and positive values are what lead to peaceful choices and actions. Our approach is to create experiences and activities that facilitate participatory learning.

“Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.”


  • Empowering Teachers as Agents of Change

Teachers play a pivotal role in shaping the minds and values of the younger generation. In Rwanda, educators have been at the forefront of the peacebuilding efforts, imparting not only academic knowledge but also instilling values of unity and tolerance in their students. Through specialized training programs and curriculum reforms, teachers are equipped with the necessary tools and resources to address sensitive topics related to the genocide and promote a culture of peace in their classrooms.

Training of in-service teachers

  • The Impact on Young Generations

For the youth of Rwanda, peace and values education offer a pathway towards a brighter and more hopeful future. By learning about the country’s painful history and the importance of embracing diversity, young people are empowered to become active participants in the healing process of the country. Through initiatives such as peace clubs, youth forums, intergenerational dialogue, and community service projects, they actively engage in promoting dialogue, resilience, and social cohesion.

  • Engaging Parents in the Journey Towards Reconciliation

The role of parents cannot be overstated in shaping the values and attitudes of their children. In Rwanda, efforts to promote peace, resilience and reconciliation extend beyond the classroom and into the home environment. Parenting workshops organized by Aegis Trust, support groups, and awareness campaigns are organized to educate parents about the importance of fostering a culture of peace within their families. By nurturing empathy, understanding, and open communication, parents play a crucial role in reinforcing the lessons learned in school and promoting positive intergenerational relationships.

Parents in PVE training

  • Key Lesson Learned

While significant progress has been made in integrating peace and values education into Rwandan society, challenges remain. Deep-seated traumas, genocidal ideology and other consequences continue to pose obstacles to the country’s journey towards reconciliation and resilience. Moreover, sustaining the momentum of peacebuilding efforts amidst evolving societal dynamics requires ongoing commitment and investment from all stakeholders.

  • Conclusion

Three decades after the genocide, Rwanda stands as a testament to the transformative power that peace and values education can have in rebuilding fractured societies. Through the dedication of teachers, the resilience of the youth, and the commitment of parents, Rwanda has made significant strides towards healing and reconciliation. However, the journey is far from over, and sustained efforts are needed to ensure that the lessons learned from the past continue to guide Rwanda towards a future defined by peace, unity, and prosperity.

Appolon Gahongayire is the Peace and Value Education Program Manager at Aegis Trust, where he oversees the delivery of Peace and Values Education. His responsibilities include guiding Rwandan youth, teachers, parents, and the wider community in acquiring knowledge, attitudes, and values that prevent the development of genocide ideologies and promote unity, peace, tolerance, and resilience. With 16 years dedicated to education, he has played a pivotal role in developing Peace and Values Education content and methodology, which have been integrated into the Rwandan national curriculum since 2015. Currently, more than three million pupils in primary and secondary schools are learning to live in harmony and combat discrimination as a result. He has also contributed to training 30 thousand Rwandan teachers to utilize this content and methodology effectively.

Appolon Gahongayire holds an MBA in Project Management, PMP® certification, and a bachelor’s degree in arts with Education.