I’m almost sure you already know that as long as you’re under 18 years of age, you are still considered a child according to Rwanda’s constitution. And if you’re still a child, you’re expected to be in school. I’m not saying that on your 18th birthday, you should pack your bags and walk out of the classroom and out of school. You and I both know that it’s good to get as much education as you can; knowledge is one of the very few things in life that nobody can take away from you.
Article 40 of the Rwandan constitution states: “Every person has a right to education.” It means that whether you’re rich or poor, disabled or not, whether you’ve given birth or not... you have a right to go to school. Further still, paragraph four of the Integrated Child Rights Policy states: “The Government guarantees by law that every child in Rwanda has the right to fee-free and compulsory education for the first 9 years of basic (primary and lower secondary) education.
Take note of ‘every child’ and ‘compulsory.’ It means that as long as you’re under 18, you’re not allowed to say: “Thanks but no thanks. I would rather stay ignorant.” So the next time you’re thinking of roaming the village or the city on a school day, think twice and keep looking over your shoulder. You could get into trouble with law enforcers.
But make no mistake; the law is not just there to criminalise you, it’s there to protect you. So if your reason for staying at home is because the responsibility of taking care of family lies on your shoulders, paragraph 4.5 states: “Recognising that large numbers of children need to work to take care of themselves/ their families and large number of children are living and working on the streets, the Government will identify such children and develop specific options to ensure their access to good quality education, such as flexible school hours, compressed curriculum and option for sitting for exams through open school system.”
So tell your friends, neighbours, every child who is missing out on school for one reason or another that they have a right to education and let them approach the local authorities for assistance in the matter.