Senate to quiz gov’t over HIV/AIDS school dropouts

KIGALI - The Senate is planning to write to the Government seeking clarification on why big numbers of children living with HIV/Aids are dropping out of school. The idea to petition the government came after the Chairperson of the Senatorial Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Agnes Kayijire, presented a report on the issue that was tabled before them by the Association of HIV Victims, APVV-Igihozo.

KIGALI - The Senate is planning to write to the Government seeking clarification on why big numbers of children living with HIV/Aids are dropping out of school.

The idea to petition the government came after the Chairperson of the Senatorial Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Agnes Kayijire, presented a report on the issue that was tabled before them by the Association of HIV Victims, APVV-Igihozo.

“After the closure of Project MAP Rwanda in 2006, over 819 children dropped out of school; this problem is known by all government organs concerned but nothing has been done about it,” said Kayijire.

She added that the issue was tabled before the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion but it instead just chose to sponsor only six children.

After the presentation, Senators expressed concern over the reluctance to educate children living with HIV/Aids with some proposing to summon the Minister while others proposed to write a petition letter to government.

“This is a very worrying situation. These are the people who have been identified by government as vulnerable, something urgent should be done to have them in school by the next academic year,” said Joseph Karemera.

In his intervention, Senator Rwigamba Balinda told his colleagues that they are looking at the issue narrowly; saying the number of children is more than 819.

“There are many organizations that close down yet they were paying fees for children, most of those children have dropped out of school and there is nothing that has been done to have them back in class. We should look at this issue in a broader context,” said Balinda.

He added that the Ministry of Local Government, together with the Ministry of Education, should also join the team that will solve this issue.

Referring to Balinda’s intervention, Senator Jean Baptiste Bizimana gave more precise figures saying that over 3000 children living with HIV/Aids have dropped out of school since 2006 as a result of Project MAP’s closure.

He said that most of these children have been out of school for about two years and that the issue was tabled before the Chamber of Deputies but there was little progress made in addressing the issue.

Some Senators proposed that Senate President Dr. Vincent Biruta meets with Prime Minister Bernard Makuza over the issue to come up with a firm conclusion.

However, this proposal was among the many that were tabled and turned down after a majority of Senators voted write to the government through the Prime Minister.
Kayijire Meanwhile presented another report on the issue of retired persons who complain that their pension packages are calculated at the 1974 rate.

“We want to summon the Minister concerned to come and explain to us why these people’s pensions can’t be calculated on the current cost of living,” said Kayijire.
Senators agreed to summon the Minister of Finance James Musoni over the issue. 

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