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May 12th, 2008
Rwanda: A Nation Recovering and Rebuilding
Procedures
Prep for Teachers
Duplicate the Student Activity Guide for each student.

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

Bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson. Preview the sites before class begins to ensure the information contained on the site has not changed and is appropriate for your students. On each of the computers you will be using, be sure that they have Flash, RealPlayer, and Windows Media Player installed so students can fully experience the interactivity, video, and audio components of the Web sites.

Note to teachers: The information and analysis of this lesson is limited by the print format. As the instructor, your guidance, insight, and heightened discussion of each of the issues addressed will improve your students’ learning experience. The lesson is written to introduce each of the issues with the goal that conversation, debate, and guidance in the classroom will encourage students to delve into each area more deeply.

Introductory Activity
A government influences its country’s economic viability in a number of ways. Despite some debate over what constitutes the role of the government and its strength, there are six primary economic functions of a market government. Let’s look at them and discuss how the U.S. government participates in each of these roles.

List the following economic functions of a market government on the board or overhead:

  1. Maintaining Legal and Social Framework
  2. Maintaining Competition
  3. Providing Public Goods and Services
  4. Redistributing Income
  5. Correcting for Externalities
  6. Stabilizing the Economy

Discuss each of the functions and identify several examples of how local, state, and national governments conduct each of these functions. After students have had time to brainstorm individually or in small groups, ask them to share their ideas with the class. Create a class list of examples of government participation in maintaining economic stability. Ensure that students understand there is some debate about how actively governments should be involved in each of those functions.

The class will return to the functions after having the opportunity to study one country trying to rebuild its economy while emerging from a tragic history.

Learning Activity
Rwanda is a small, landlocked country in Africa with a tragic past. The learning activity is to familiarize students with the history of Rwanda. As students move through the learning activity, they should gain knowledge of the history of Rwanda, an awareness of the genocide in 1994, and an understanding of the complexities of recovering from such devastation. To assist students in gathering and organizing information, distribute copies of the Student Activity Guide provided in this lesson.

Begin by allowing students to gather some basic information about Rwanda from the BBC News Web site. Ask students to read the timeline of Rwanda http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1070329.stm and the country profile of Rwanda http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1070265.stm. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to take notes about the country and be sure to address its general history, identify the conflicting groups, and determine causes of the conflict. Students should also be able to identify Rwanda on a map.

After students have a basic understanding of Rwanda’s historical timeline, allow them time to further explore the genocide that took place in 1994. In 100 days, 800,000 people were systematically murdered. Many were tortured and raped. This is a concept inconceivable to most and may be very difficult for students to fully comprehend. The following Web sites provide event descriptions, still photos, and audio and video interviews. Some of the content may not be appropriate for your class based on student age and maturity, so preview the sites carefully before using them.

Ask students to explore “Ghosts of Rwanda,” a FRONTLINE Web site that is a companion to the documentary that investigated the genocide ten years after it occurred. Ask students to log on to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ghosts/. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, directing them to use the interactive timeline to see how the 100 days of genocide progressed. The class may also use the Video and Interviews sections of the site. Choose segments of the videos or interviews to demonstrate how the genocide took place and its effect on those both directly and indirectly involved. Students can continue to add details to their timeline on their Activity Guide.

Many students rarely get the experience of listening to news reports. On this site, you can listen to an NPR report and an interview with two women who experienced the terror of the genocide and who discuss how women are essential to rebuild Rwanda. This is an hour-long call-in show, so listen to it before sharing it with your class and select a few segments that are appropriate for the maturity and attention span of your class. Listening to two women who have experienced this terror is incredibly moving and makes it feel more real. Log on to “THE CONNECTION” Web site at http://www.theconnection.org/shows/2004/04/20040422_b_main.asp. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to listen for specific information based on the segments you have chosen. Be sure to give them specific facts to listen for because otherwise their attention will sway. Consider discussing how each of the women are currently involved with projects to provide aid to others. You may also discuss the very different experiences of the women. What did they see? Why did they return to Rwanda? Also, pause frequently to allow students to comment on or ask questions about what is being discussed. Make sure students understand the accents, locations being mentioned, and horrors of which these women speak so freely.

Next ask students to log on to the WIDE ANGLE Web site http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/shows/rwanda. On this site, students will continue to learn about Rwanda and the genocide as well as begin to learn more about how Rwanda is forging ahead to recover and rebuild. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to read the Briefing and Fast Facts. Ask them if they are seeing any new information from what they have looked at previously in this lesson. They should identify that this Briefing mentions more about the role of women in rebuilding Rwanda, and it also introduces the concept of gender quotas in government. Make sure students understand what a quota is and that some countries, including Rwanda, have established gender quotas for representation in government. Ask students how that may affect representation. How would having more women in decision-making positions affect the decisions made in government? Next ask students to look at the Photo Essay. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to identify common themes in the photos and to describe how these images differ from the ones they looked at earlier in the lesson. After students have had time to explore the photos, discuss them. The captions that accompany the photos outline how the role of women is changing. Many opportunities previously considered taboo are now available to them. During the discussion, students should mention that the images depict women in non-traditional roles. Women are undertaking more responsibility in the home and in government as women won 48 percent of elected offices. They may also notice women participating in voting, leading reconciliation efforts between ethnic groups, and leading money making opportunities in farming and agriculture.

Emerging from the genocide, the Rwandan government started to rebuild and emerge from the horror. With over 800,000 dead, and 40 percent of the farms and households lead by women and girls, traditional subsistence farming was no longer an option for economic security. The government had to create an infrastructure to provide physical and mental health assistance to the survivors who had been raped (many inflicted with AIDS), create opportunities for education, and provide opportunity for growth. Steps have been taken to secure Rwanda’s economic future. Begin investigating this topic at WIDE ANGLE’s Web site: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/shows/rwanda. Ask students to log on and select the Interactive Map that identifies gender representation in government internationally. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to select different areas of the map to determine where women have obtained the greatest representation. Students will discover that Rwanda ranks first in gender balance with nearly 49 percent of its legislature composed of women. Ask students to then select Handbook from the menu bar. In this section, students can explore a five-part series about Rwanda’s challenges. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to read each of the sections and pay particular attention to The Economy and Political Outlook. Ask students what the ways are that Rwanda’s leaders are seeking economic growth in agriculture. What steps have been taken to encourage the economic success of women? How has Rwanda’s government changed since 1994? Students should take notes on their Activity Guide and share their discoveries with the class.

Culminating Activity
Reflect on the economic functions of a market economy discussed on the introductory activity. Use the resources listed below and Web sites already visited to analyze how the Rwandan government is addressing each of the six functions. Following are a series of Web sites and article describing Rwanda today and the struggle of rebuilding. For these Web sites, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to read the articles, related links, and additional resources provided in class to understand the difficulty of rebuilding the country and how women specifically are participating and leading that growth when, prior to the genocide, their rights were limited. Students may use their Activity Guide as an organizational tool.

While exploring these three sites and any of those used earlier in the lesson, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to find examples of Rwanda’s government addressing each of the six economic functions of government and note how women in particular are affecting economic change. As students complete this task, you may want to prompt them to address the following:

  • Property rights
  • Nationality and how it is/was determined
  • Head of household shifts
  • What is still needed for continued growth?
  • What rebuilding challenges continue to be posed?
  • The justice system and the difficulties in prosecuting the perpetrators
Cross Curricular Connection
Government — Analyze the school community. Do the six functions apply to a smaller community such as a school? Discuss this with the class and determine if it applies.

English — Write letters, journals, poems, or presentations based on the information students have learned about Rwanda. The history of the genocide is horrifying and students may need an outlet to express their reaction to these events.

Cross Curricular Connection
Government — Analyze the school community. Do the six functions apply to a smaller community such as a school? Discuss this with the class and determine if it applies.

English — Write letters, journals, poems, or presentations based on the information students have learned about Rwanda. The history of the genocide is horrifying and students may need an outlet to express their reaction to these events.

Community Connections

  • There are many organizations importing goods for sale to help support the Rwandan people. Students could encourage sales of these products in school while educating their peers about the genocide in Rwanda.
  • Allow students to become involved in either this or another international cause. Use information from Amnesty International or the United Nations to educate students about international issues. The first step in becoming involved is becoming educated and understanding what is happening around the world.

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