Govt reaffirms efforts to protect children’s rights

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Students attend Day of the African Child celebrations last week. / Frederic Byumvuhore

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure efficient protection and promotion of the rights of children, the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Esperance Nyirasafari, has said.

The minister was last week speaking during celebrations of the International Day of the African Child in Bugarama sector, Rusizi District.

The celebrations, which reflected on the achievements and best practices in the promotion of children’s rights in the country, was attended by children from various schools, parents and public officials.

The day was held under the global theme, “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030,” and locally “Build the Rwanda of tomorrow by protecting what we have achieved to protect child’s rights.”

The celebration also marked the end of the “Child Month” campaign started on May 15 and featured activities such as the promotion of Early Childhood Development and birth registration and a campaign on preventing child labour.

The Day of the African Child, marked on June 16 annually, honours the memories of students who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 for protesting against education, injustice and inequality under the apartheid regime.

It was designated as Day of the African Child in 1991 by the African Union, making it an annual event with activities organised to promote children’s rights.

Various participants at the celebrations applauded efforts to ensure that all children are given equal opportunities and protection.

The achievements include education for all through Nine- and 12-Year Basic Education, policies designed for children like growing in families rather than orphanages, protecting children from labour burdens, creation of One Stop Centres, among others.

Minister Nyirasafari said more efforts from all partners are still needed to sustain the achievements and ensure respect for all children’s rights and welfare.

She called on families to use parents’ forums to discuss family-related issues, especially how to adopt children in homes for proper upbringing.

“Children are pillars of the country’s future and they need inspiration. The Government commits to put more efforts to ensure the protection of all children. The more we work together to protect our children, the faster the country develops,” Nyirasafari said.

Child registration and labour

The minister reminded families to register their newborns, and protect children from labour burdens.

“The main responsibility of the child is to attend school. A child under five should not be involved in any household chores,” she said.

Ted Maly, UNICEF country representative, pledged commitment to deliver results for children such as child protection and early childhood development.

He stressed that when a child is healthy, vaccinated, well-nourished and grows up in a loving family, nothing can stop them.

They can go on to become the future innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, teachers, politicians, and change-makers that will continue to propel the country forward, he said.

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