A Brief Overview of Music Education in Rwanda

For many, the country of Rwanda is synonymous with genocide against the Tutsi. Rwandan figures indicate over 1,000,000 deaths occurred in the “100 days of Slaughter” in the Spring of 1994, followed but the displacement of over 2,000,000 after that faze of the atrocities ended. During the first six weeks of the genocide, it is estimated that the killings were five times the rate of the Holocaust. The Rwandan government estimated 10,000 murdered every day, 400 every hour, and 7 every minute. Rape was used systematically used, causing a spike in HIV infection. The countries’ infrastructure imploded and combined with a sudden and severe depopulation (approximately 1 in 7 were murdered), crippled the economy. The resulting unrest across the Congo and the heart of Africa still reverberate from this deadly time.

In particular, the 1994 Genocide had a severe impact on both the music industry and music education. Many music teachers – as well as musicians – were either killed or left the country. While some musicians did return, many chose to completely relocate in another country to enable themselves to become a part of an already thriving musical community. Still, some musicians returned and new teachers and performers have emerged, essentially generating a new music education system from scratch, incorporating both traditional music and instruments, while creating opportunities for musicians to expand to genres and ways of performing music universally recognized.

Instrumental education in Rwanda, e.g. bands and orchestras, are not found in the public schools, in equal parts because of funding, lack of instrumental teachers and equipment. However, three schools (all located in Rwanda’s capital: Kigali), are starting a new trend in instrumental education: Green Hills Academy, Kigali International Community School and Wellspring Academy. (Note: Private schools, often church-based, have so far proven to have the needed infrastructure, facilities and willingness to support instrumental music programs.
These schools often incorporate a British-based international curriculum and accreditation, with the intent of allowing their students a more global-based education leading to greater opportunity than many public schools are currently able to offer.)

TMG is excited to partner with the only 3 schools currently providing access to a band/orchestral experience in Rwanda. To find out more about these schools, click on the school name above. Hope, possibility and change: YOU can help make this happen in Rwanda!