In a special report published in the Sunday Times yesterday, under the headline Kigali’s market children dream of going back to school, it was revealed that many children are engaged in child labour within and around Kigali.
Most of these children are used to carry merchandise including heavy loads like sacks of food stuffs.
This kind of situation should not be allowed to continue because child labour is against national and international laws. Those engaging children in child labour, should be reprimanded by the authorities. These children should be in school especially since we have the free 12 Year Basic Education programme.
With the newly published Ministerial Order providing for sanctions against parents who do not send their children to school and against those who employ children in work that prevents them from going to or causing them to drop out of school, concrete measures should be taken to fully implement this law.
According to the Ministry of Education, in 2013 alone, school dropout in primary was at 12.4 per cent, while at secondary level it was at 14.7 per cent and 6.2 per cent at A-Level. Child labour accounts for a big percentage of this problem.
Special focus should also be put on addressing reasons why these children end up in child labour. Some of the children interviewed by this paper said that they are the household heads and have to work to provide for their siblings. Others cited harassment by their guardians or parents as the reason they run away from home and drop out of school.
These among other issues need to be looked into to find a lasting solution to this problem.
Arresting or reprimanding people who employ these children is not enough. We should look at the root cause of the problem and address it accordingly.
The community leaders, parents and the church should take a lead in this campaign.