Sometime in March this year, a Kigali-based parent took to Twitter to explain what happened when she informed her children they might have to change schools. “Nothing prepared me for [the] dozens [of] letters from their friends,” she posted on the platform. So strongly did she feel about sharing the experience that she attached a selection of the letters, after having asked for “permission to share so that parents start thinking about happiness of their children before making decisions.” The tweet seems to have resonated and quickly attracted a thread of comments amid many likes and retweets. I took a mental note of it when I first came across it those months ago. I was browsing through the platform when I saw it again and thought to be counted in her quest. For purposes of this column, let’s call her daughter Keza, on whose behalf it seems the school friends most petitioned the parent. The letters are transcribed here verbatim as the children wrote them. This is to maintain their wholesomeness, warts and all. I would agree with those who say reading such letters directly from the children’s own handwriting adds to their flavour, but here we are. “I am Keza’s best friend,” begins one of them. “I wanted to tell you that you really raised Keza to be a strong, confident and intelligent girl, and I wanted to say that Keza have been always on my side and others; she is a friend that anyone can wish for and when am sad she tries to calm down and tries to listen to me. So I really appreciate all of the things she has done. So i respectively ask you to not let Keza and [her sibling] to go to another school. Because we love them so much. THANK YOU !” Another concerned classmate writes that she is also Keza’s best friend. “I humbly ask you to let Keza stay at [our school] Please! I promise that I will help her in her studies.” The third of the letters pleads: “I know that she is not happy about leaving this school. She really progressed on this school and I think that if she goes on another school she will miss us and we will also miss her, so, please let her stay on this school. THANK YOU” I remember thinking how bright the children sound, and how their self-confidence comes through in the letters. If they are representative of their classmates, it spoke well of their teachers and their school. There is also the loyalty the children display rallying for their friend to remain in the school. But it goes beyond loyalty to other benefits the children may yet be aware. There are countless studies about childhood friendships and the benefit that accrues from them. They arrive at similar conclusions. Friendships and how the children navigate them help to support their emotional and social development. The friendships also help to increase a child’s capacity for empathy and altruism, or their selfless regard for others. Having friends boosts their happiness, well-being and self-confidence, and promotes a positive outlook on life. The friendships entail practising communication skills and can help encourage good behaviour. And, as one of the children in the letters said about Keza being there when she is sad, it lessens stress. In the end, however, the parent knows best and had a choice to make given the circumstances that informed her decision to move the children. “They will eventually have to change school,” she wrote in her thread, “but I will do my best to preserve and value the friendships they created.” By the time of writing this, the post had a respectable 852 likes and over 150 retweets and quote tweets, giving it a pretty good showing. And, if I understood her motivation to “share so that parents start thinking about happiness of their children”, she must have been referring to children’s rights, which many parents don’t always appreciate. In 1989 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Countries committed to protecting children’s rights. The convention became the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. The children’s rights are set in four core principles and include non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care, education, and legal, civil and social services.