There has been an increasing effort to deliver Education in Emergencies (EiE) from the international community since the 1990s because of protracted humanitarian situations. Despite the growing attention to EiE, many children in conflict-affected situations miss schooling, especially at the lower secondary level, without having the opportunity to receive a second chance education (SCE) or to voice their perspectives on this situation. Given the gaps within EiE, this paper focuses on the largely overlooked issue of out-of-school children and young people resulting from emergencies and the potential for a second chance education (SCE). As a case study, it examines how and this group of children lost their schooling in Rwanda before 1994 but achieved their SCE in the post-genocide period. Rwanda is a crucial case in considering the relationships between conflict and education and the implications for EiE due to the significant scale of destruction of life and infrastructure, including that of education, during and after the 1994 genocide.
The research referred to in this paper is qualitative and interpretive in its design to promote understanding of how learners in post-genocide Rwanda made sense of the complex education journey that they undertook and their motivations for it. Based on 23 life story interviews conducted in Rwanda in 2016, the research uncovers how education contributed to dividing the society throughout the political contest and illustrates the various barriers existed to exclude individuals from schooling before, during and after the genocide. Motivations for SCE in this situation include: intrinsic motivations, such as cognitive rewards, and extrinsic motivations relating to skills, qualifications and livelihood; the influence of normative value; and that of restoration.
The contributions of this research are two-fold. First, successful pathways to SCE can indicate some conducive conditions, including alternative routes to formal education at primary and secondary levels. Second, learners’ motivations for the SCE vary, compared to the donors’ focus on skills, qualifications and livelihood. Learner perspectives on education are largely missing in the EiE field but have important implications for the practice of EiE.
Keywords: Conflict, Education in Emergencies, second chance education, learner motivations, Rwanda