The dream of every parent and the ambition of every country is that children will become productive adults, making positive contributions to society. That is why measures are put in place to protect their right to grow.
Protection of the right to grow starts with ensuring that decisions regarding children are protective of their wellbeing. To this end, article 6 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that in any decision concerning a child, every institution or individual should “always take into consideration the best interest of the child.”
According to article 10 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child, the right to grow encompasses all aspects of growth. These include; physical, mental, spiritual, moral, psychological and social growth. Thus, article 10 says that a child’s family, the Rwandan community and the Government have the responsibility to protect all the aspects of growth.
One important aspect of growth is education. Article 20 of the constitution of Rwanda protects the right of access to education. Children are especially obligated to be in school. For this reason, primary education is compulsory and those who prevent children from being in school are criminally liable.
The quality of education that a child should receive is described in article 11 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). One of the things the things that education ought to achieve according to the ACRWC is to lead to “the promotion and development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.”
Another aspect of growth is physical health. Article 44 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child provides measures for the health of the child. This includes immunization, efforts to combat malnutrition, and protection from alcohol and drug abuse.
Additionally, Article 45 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 says, “Every child who is on the Rwandan territory must be affiliated to a medical insurance in accordance with relevant law.”
In order to preserve the dignity of children, article 218 of the Penal Code of Rwanda prohibits inflicting suffering on children, harassing them or using severe methods of punishment for wrongdoing.
A person who does any of the above mentioned acts is liable to a minimum term of imprisonment of six months. However, if exposing a child to extreme suffering, harassment or punishment results in death, the penalty is life imprisonment.
It’s important to know that while parents, teachers, the community and the government have the responsibility to protect a child’s right to grow, the child has a responsibility to make use of the opportunities provided in that regard. Therefore, stay in school, eat healthy food, make good friends and respect the law.