A total of 960 high school-leaving students - 458 girls and 502 boys - native of Nyaruguru district, Southern Rwanda, on Thursday officially started a three-week national civic education programme locally known as "Itorero ry'Igihugu" aimed at inculcating in them some cultural and humanity values meant to supplement their six-year high school education.
The training, which is taking place at two sites of Cyahinda and Kibeho, features students from Nyaruguru's 14 sectors. 435 students camping at "Groupe Scolaire Marie Merci" high school come from six sectors, namely Kibeho, Mata, Ruramba, Kivu, Ruheru and Nyabimata while the remaining 525 students staying at Cyahinda Teacher Training Center come from eight remaining sectors, that is Cyahinda, Nyagisozi, Busanze, Munini, Ngera, Ngoma, Muganza and Rusenge.
And they will be taking 17 different courses including the history of Rwanda, the role of the youth in conflict prevention and resolution, the role of the youth in fighting against violence under its different forms, job creation, the importance of fighting against drugs and HIV/AIDS among the youth, first aid skills and national service - just to say the least.
"Cultural values such as integrity, patriotism and a sense of humanity must be of a paramount importance in you before you even think of any other things. That way, I am sure, there will never be any other Genocide in Rwanda", Dieudonné Kambanda, the country's coordinator of activities in Itorero ry'Igihugu , told hundreds of his keen audience at Cyahinda center.
Nyaruguru district's Mayor, François Habitegeko, went an extra mile to emphasize the message.
"A society which doesn't obey its cultural values anymore just gets on the brink of collapsing", he said.
"Aim at having integrity and be visionary [farsighted]", Mayor Habitegeko urged his audience, acknowledging that Rwanda has had a "souring historical record" climaxing into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and that by heeding his advice, among others, his audience would be able to turn that gloomy history page for the better.
At both training facilities, Kibeho and Cyahinda, Mayor Habitegeko urged students to be "resilient".
'Difficulties don't come to destroy our lives. Instead, they [difficulties] come to help us realize the power and potential in us to deal with problems', Mayor Habitegeko quoted one wise man as having once said.
And some participants to this civic education training say it is going to be a good, lifetime experience.
One such participant is Claudine Mukeshimana, 23, who studied accountancy at high school.
"It [civic education training] is going to increase our sense of cohesion and patriotism. So it's very important for me to be here", said Mukeshimana, a resident of Kibeho sector.
This is the fourth intake of the national civic education programme in Nyaruguru district since the programme was launched in Rwanda in 2009.
An inside source at the national civic education programme in the district says a total of 5,642 people - including teachers, students and coffee farmers - have so far gone through the programme.
With this year's intake of 960 students, this rises the number up to 3,401 high school-leaving students to have undergone the national civic education programme since 2009 in Nyaruguru district.
Thousands more have already gone through the programme all over the country.
According to Mayor Habitegeko, the civic education programme has been an "eye-opener", helping participants notice the achievements the country has made in different areas and motivating them to play an active role in Rwanda's continued development programmes.
Pioneers of the national civic education programme maintain that it is a way of rejuvenating and modernizing what used to happen in the traditional Rwanda, hundreds of years ago.
Young boys used to attend training camps aimed at inculcating in them different cultural values like good manners, integrity, oratory or public speaking as a way of preparing them to become real men while young girls followed a specific training aimed at growing good behaviours and familiarizing them with a number of household duties worth of a good, real woman. So not much of new in the current programme, pioneers say.