A child is not meant to be a passive citizen, benefitting from civil rights without giving anything in return. Each child has duties to play, doing things that benefit his/her family, community and country.
According to article 21 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 law relating to the rights and the protection of the child, one of the duties is respect and assistance. Article 21 paragraph one states: “Depending on his/her understanding level, the child, must respect any human being, especially his/her parents or guardian.”
Respect for parents, guardians and other human beings, is an important aspect of exercising civil rights. This is according to article 41 of the constitution of Rwanda which says: “In exercising rights and freedoms, everyone is subject only to limitations provided for by the law aimed at ensuring recognition and respect of other people’s rights and freedoms, as well as public morals, public order and social welfare which generally characterise a democratic society.”
In addition to respect, every child is mandated with helping his/her parents or guardians in a way that is suitable with his/her capabilities. For instance, depending on how old he/she is, a child can participate in doing household chores such as washing utensils, cleaning the floor or cooking.
Another duty that is expected of children is patriotism. In this regard, article 22 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child states: “A child must love his/her nation.” In order to help children to love their country, civic education programmes are a part and parcel of schooling.
In order to become a productive citizen, a child must acquire knowledge and skills. That is why article 23 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child states: “A child has the duty to undergo basic education as ensured by parents and the government.”
The government ensures that children are able to perform their duty of going to school by making primary education compulsory and free in public schools. This is according to article 47 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child.
Additionally, the government punishes parents who jeopardise their children’s education under the Penal Code. Article 227 paragraph two of the Penal Code says that any parent who interferes with the education of a child through mistreatment, drunkenness or misconduct is liable to “a term of imprisonment of at least two (2) months but less than six (6) months and a fine of one hundred thousand (100,000) to one million (1,000,000) Rwandan francs or one of these penalties.”