Rwanda is among the few African countries to benefit from a US$ 59 million fund from the United States aimed at combating exploitative child labour.
Eight African states will receive $20.4m grants in the fiscal year 2009 from the fund announced yesterday by US Secretary of Labour, Hilda L. Solis.
The money is expected to rescue more than 85,000 children undergoing exploitative child labour as well as enrolling them back into school.
The grants will also help improve collection and analysis of child labour data and support for the development and implementation of national action plans to address the problem.
“We are aware of this development, but we don’t know yet how much we will receive as a country, but we are sure this will support the efforts we are already carrying out on the national level, aimed at combating child labour.” said Anastase Murekezi, the Minister of Labour and Public Service.
Studies indicate that exploitative child labour is still highly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, with more children being forced into exploitative labour by their own families or poverty while others are recruited into armies and rebel movements as child soldiers.
“Protecting children from exploitation and ensuring that their education and healthy development is not compromised is our moral duty.
With these new funds, we are furthering our commitment to working with the international community to find effective and lasting solutions to this global challenge.” Solis said upon announcing the grants.
Other African countries to benefit include Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Zambia as well as projects ran under the International Labour Organization’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO-IPEC).
According to Murekezi, government efforts have drastically reduced the number of children involved in exploitative child labour such as tea picking. He said a catch-up programme to enable children who had earlier dropped out of school to re-join is also being implemented.
He said that a survey done by the National Institute of Statistics to assess the situation of child labour in the country was conducted last year and will be released soon.