The German-Rwandan Students Workshop on the occasion of the 20th commemoration of the Genocide perpetrated against Tutsi in 1994.
Within the framework of the cultural cooperation between the German Government and Africa, especially through the German Commission for UNESCO (Deutsche Kommission, hereafter named “DUK”, a Workshop was jointly organized by the National Commission of Rwanda for UNESCO and DUK for Upper Secondary School Students from Germany and Rwanda under the theme “Dealing with traumatic pasts” from 15th to 24th February 20124.
This Workshop will enable Students from both the Countries to explore together the traumatic events in their home countries in 1933-45 and 1994 respectively as well as how their societies are dealing with the legacy of these events- and produce-recommendation in order to avoid any future repetition.

National Commissions for UNESCO constitute a unique network within the United Nations family of agencies. They have been established to act as a bridge between governments and non-governmental actors with a view to creating a deeper involvement of experts and relevant institutions in Member States into multilateral cooperation in UNESCO’s fields of competence. National Commissions therefore can significantly contribute to the Organization’s impact.

As part of its strategy to intensify cultural cooperation with Africa, the German Government has established a special fund within the German Commission for UNESCO (“Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission” (“DUK”) for intensifying partnership with National Commissions in Africa. In 2008, DUK has started a cooperation project with the National Commissions of Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Namibia and Rwanda. By launching this initiative, DUK aims at contributing to strengthen the network of National Commissions and to reinforce their genuine role as effective catalysts of UNESCO’s action at country level. Exchange of experience and know-how between National Commissions is crucial for further developing their capacities to better fulfil their functions and to more successfully meet the expectations of their partners.
The partnership programme intends to strengthen the work of National Commissions in a long-term perspective and in a very broad sense, with five pillars of cooperation:

(1) Institutional capacity building, through training workshops, exchange of staff and south-south co-operation within the respective cluster regions in order to:
• Establish and safeguard sustainable functioning of programme committees and of national committees for UNESCO’s intergovernmental programmes;
• Retain experts in the daily work and in committees;
• Develop mechanisms of continuously identifying strengths and best practice and building on them;

(2) Training of individual staff members in key competencies in order to:
• Mobilise human resources, i.e. internship programmes and meaningful involvement of volunteers;
• Mobilise funds;
• Training could be extended to members of National Committees of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Programmes (MOST, IHP, IPDC, and Memory of the World etc.)

(3) Ongoing sharing of strategic and technical know-how, especially with regard to
• Experiences with projects with real multiplicative impact on people’s lives;
• Establishment and sustainable functioning of programme committees and
• Retention of experts.

(4) Financial support for field projects, especially those pertaining to core functions of National Commissions. This could include support for publications of National Commissions as well as infrastructural support, such as adequate IT-equipment.
In this partnership programme, DUK works closely with UNESCO Headquarters, UNESCO Cluster Offices and UNESCO Regional Bureaus. DUK also addresses other German governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to forge partnerships with African counterparts.

As a first step, in June 2008, the German Commission for UNESCO organized a 10-day kick-off workshop with 2 staff members of each of the five participating African National Commissions and DUK staff. Representatives of the respective Cluster Offices (Dar es Salaam, Windhoek, Nairobi, Bamako) and representatives of UNESCO Headquarters, i.e. Bureau of Field Coordination (BFC) and the Sector for External Relations and Cooperation (ERC), also took part.

All involved parties strongly welcomed the German initiative as an excellent possibility to improve the quality and impact of the National Commissions’ activities.
The workshop offered the opportunity to exchange experiences concerning the in each case unique role and positioning of the National Commission in its country, to share best practices, to articulate the specific opportunities and challenges of their work and to identify future areas of cooperation

As a result of the workshop, the National Commissions of Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda and Germany identified a number of achievements as common ground for the partnership they are about to build. They have proven their capability to deliver. Some countries emphasized in particular their successful efforts in revitalizing the work of the National Commission and in keeping it functioning despite adverse circumstances.

The work of the National Commissions builds on projects with real benefit to society, such as poverty alleviation, renewable energies, Education for All and intercultural dialogue. The celebration of special days, such as World Press Freedom Day or the World Heritage Day in Germany, EFA week and UNESCO day in Rwanda or the EFA week in Lesotho, have led to enhanced visibility. They are seen as fundamental for building up North-South, North-South-South and South-South-cooperation.

In Education

All participating National Commissions have set up a network of UNESCO Associated Schools (ASP). An exchange of knowledge and experiences on establishing and maintaining an efficient ASP network was started in the Bonn workshop and will be continued.
A twinning programme between German and African ASPs was suggested and welcomed by DUK and all African National Commissions present. Contacts are facilitated through the German ASP coordinator (part of DUK).


All participants called for a follow-up mechanism and a regular evaluation of the partnership programme. DUK suggests a common reflection of successes and challenges of the cooperation in the form of annual evaluation workshops. These would also give occasion to further develop the cooperation and to build on experiences made.
It was agreed that special attention should be paid to the following aspects:

(1) Objectives of the cooperation
• Ensuring a common understanding of the objectives of the cooperation by all participants
• Adequacy of scale and quality of the measures and efforts made to reach the objectives

(2) Implementation of the cooperation
• Regular flow of information
• Mutual support/working together to reinforce capacities
• Sharing of experiences, best practices and documents
• Understanding of one another’s conditions of work

(3) Impact of the cooperation
• Stronger involvement of civil society
• Establishment or reactivation of programme and national committees
• Integration of new areas of programmatic work, like ESD
• Improved strategic planning
• Improved project management skills
• Effective realisation of the initiated projects

It is in respect of this cooperation, that the German Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and Sport, Rheinland-Pfalz organized the 2 times Workshop on the topic “Dealing with traumatic pasts-the only way to avoid repetition” for 24 ASPnet students and their teachers from Rwanda and Germany, precisely, 12ASPnet students from Rwanda and their teachers and 12 ASP net Students and their teachers from Germany. This workshop will take place in Kigali from 15 to 24 February 2014 and will give participants the opportunity to meet each other, discuss and work out what is essential to deal with traumatic past and to participate and strengthen their partnerships by presenting their results of the workshop.
This Workshop will also take place in German for the same participants. The proposed timeframe is between August and November 2014.

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