Rwanda Genocide Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

The Rwandan Genocide was one of the most tragic events of recent memory. With this lesson plan, you'll have the tools you need to help your students better appreciate the tragic events of the genocide. Find, too, related lessons and additional activity extensions to expand the unit as needed.

Lesson Objectives

With the completion of this lesson, your students should be able to:

  • describe the major events of the Rwandan Genocide
  • analyze the role that inter-ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis played in the Rwanda Genocide


40 minutes plus 40 minutes for an activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Key Terms

  • Hutu
  • Tutsi
  • International Criminal Court
  • Rwandan Genocide


  • Start by reviewing what genocide is. Use examples from the Holocaust and, if your class has discussed them, the Balkans and Armenia.
  • Provide copies of the text lesson The Rwandan Genocide: Facts & Timeline to students. Have them read the lesson, highlighting key points as they go through the piece. Afterwards, discuss the following:
    • The Belgians had colonized Rwanda and were responsible for drawing its borders. Do you think that it was wise for them to put the Hutus and the Tutsis in the same country and play them off of each other?
    • In what ways do you think the differences between the Hutus and Tutsis were motivated by economics?
    • As many as one million people were killed in the genocide. Try to put losing such a large portion of the population into perspective.
    • How did the Rwandan Genocide play a role in deterring future genocides?

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