Which genocides to teach?April 1, 2009 at 4:00 am | Posted in Education | Leave a comment
Ellie Levenson asks an important question: should the Rwandan genocide be a part of the national curriculum in schools?
Since 1991, teaching the Holocaust has been a mandatory component of the national curriculum, taught in history to students between the age of 11 and 14. It can be studied again as part of the second world war for GCSE history, and there is also scope to cover it in English, politics and citizenship classes.
Yet, time and again, teachers find students respond to these classes with a belief that genocide could not happen today. Some teachers are countering this by teaching their students about the genocide in Rwanda, which started 15 years ago this April. Over a period of 100 days, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans, mainly Tutsis, were killed after the shooting down of the president’s plane sparked a campaign of violence throughout the country. There was no intervention from the international community.
Despite this, the Rwandan genocide is not part of the national curriculum. Instead, it is down to the enthusiasm of individual teachers. One such teacher is Sam Hunt, assistant headteacher at Sandhurst school, a mixed comprehensive in Bracknell Forest, Berkshire. Active in Holocaust education, she thought it was important to teach children about more recent genocides, and was invited to visit Rwanda by the founder of Survivor’s Fund (Surf), an international organisation supporting survivors of the Rwandan genocide. There, she learned about the genocide and met survivors firsthand.
NB: I’ll just be dumping links for the rest of this week, and will be away from the internet for all of next week. Normal blogging will resume on around 12th or 13th of March