According to Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, the executive secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), the commission has over the past two years made good progress in its activities, mainly through intensive mobilization, grassroots partnership with citizens in peace building and solving social conflicts.
The commission also made contributions to other pro¬grams, such as the removal of grass-thatched houses. (file photo)
“Mobilization was mainly carried through Itorero and training activities; we recorded over 40,000 people who passed different civic education sessions and courses on unity and reconciliation programs. Among them we had 1,681 trainers; 35,783 students; close to 2,500 taxi-moto drivers; 85 people in the Diaspora and also people in prison services,” Habyarimana said while presenting the NURC’s annual report in the Senate.
He added that throughout training and mobilization, they emphasized the country’s important historical moments; the background of Itorero and its importance today; the role of youth in the peace building process and the achievements of a sustainable development alongside the culture of savings and other civic education components.
“Considering the focus on accountability today, the NURC has found it relevant to insert new courses which tackle the negative effects of corruption, injustice and poor service delivery,” the executive secretary said. “On top of that we work hand in hand with local leaders and try to ensure a big turn-out on occasions such as umuganda and collective efforts in addressing challenges in education, health and other sectors.”
The commission also made contributions to other programs, such as the removal of grass-thatched houses, where its trainers and staff raised close to Frw 2,000,000 to help construct new houses in Burera district, where NURC also helped people for road construction in the new villages as well as tracing of hillside terraces.
According to Habyarimana, Itorero is a key component in reuniting the population and sensitize them on their role in the nation’s progress. “We have seen different cases of successful integration; for example, in Gisagara district people started a program of integrating former inmates by inviting them to participate in church services and daily activities. It was a very good approach and we commended it,” he said.
Another achievement the executive secretary highlighted was the Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer research carried out in 2010, which found that the country’s unity and reconciliation program had achieved 70% of its objectives. The Barometer assessed political culture, human security, citizenship and identity, understanding the past, transitional justice and the social cohesion.
Yet the study also identified areas that require more attention. For example, between 30 and 35% of Rwandans are not satisfied with systems relating to the access of the land, housing, and compensations for genocide survivors; they neither feel fully integrated in decision making nor believe they have equal opportunities in the sharing of the government resources and assets.
In this respect, senator Narcisse Musabeyezu remarked that the commission should do more of such research in order to enhance the education system as far as civic education is concerned.
“We should enrich the national curriculum with findings from research into civic education so that the new generation knows the history of our country,” Musabeyezu said. “Our children have the right to know the truth about their country’s, and the commission should contribute to it.”