CIES 2016 Panel on Children, Youth & Schooling in Rwanda Today

posted Mar 3, 2016, 7:06 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman   [ updated Jul 27, 2016, 9:02 AM ]
Dr. Catherine Honeyman, Managing Director of Ishya Consulting, will lead a panel at the 2016 Comparative and International Education Society conference scheduled for March in Vancouver, Canada, on the topic of "Children, Youth, and Schooling in Rwanda Today: Post-Developmental Government Visions and Young People's Responses."

Panel Abstract:
The first generation of children born after Rwanda's 1994 genocide against the Tutsi is just now on the cusp of maturity. As they walk the path towards adult identities that fit with their own aspirations, they must also navigate the expectations of their friends, families, and--not least--the state. At the same time, Rwanda's government is experiencing its own sort of coming-of-age, increasingly shrugging off international tutelage to forge an independent path that combines strong-state developmental methods with neoliberal ideals of self-reliance and entrepreneurialism.

Rwanda's current governing approach, recently described as "post-developmental" (Honeyman, forthcoming; also see Ong, 2006) or "high modernist" (Huggins, 2013; Newbury, 2011; also see Scott, 1999), involves definite ideas about who Rwandan children and youth are, and who they should become. Schooling is central to that project. It is conceived of in government discourse as the primary institution for shaping the ideal Rwandan citizen of the future, and as essential to realizing Rwanda's planned transition to a middle-income, knowledge-based economy by 2020.

This panel presentation explores Rwanda's post-developmental vision for children and youth through the lens of schooling, and the ways in which young people define their educational experiences and futures in the context of strong-state plans and strategies. All of the papers pay particular attention to young people's perceptions and experiences of, and reactions to, post-developmental educational policies. Not surprisingly, young people have their own perspective on the meaning of schooling and its place in their lives.

Following an introduction to the panel focusing on Rwanda's significance today in the global discourse on education and development, Timothy Williams will provide an overview of the current Rwandan education system, focusing on how the government envisions the goals and characteristics of a quality education, and the successes and obstacles to its efforts to enact these ideals. Next, Kirsten Pontalti explores young people's choices to participate or not participate in national educational priorities through school enrollment and attendance, and the effects of these choices on Rwanda's post-developmental goal of transitioning towards a knowledge-based economy. Third, Samuel Rushworth explores how students construct their identities in the context of the school, in ways that support the reproduction of Rwandan culture and social structures but not necessarily in the manner envisaged by educational planners. Finally, Catherine Honeyman discusses the key role that entrepreneurship education plays in Rwandan government visions of young people's schooling and livelihoods, and what young people make of the post-developmental objective to educate them into a generation of orderly entrepreneurs. 

In the context of the conference theme, Six Decades of Comparative and International Education, this panel offers a joint perspective on one important future emphasis for comparative and international education research: investigating how young people shape the interface between international, national, and local education policy-making, implementation, and effects. Paper presentations will be followed by time for questions and discussion, and excerpts will be available of Honeyman's book, The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda, forthcoming in mid-2016 from Stanford University Press.