EDITORIAL: Intensify crackdown on child labour perpetrators

Police in Karongi District is holding five people for allegedly involving underage children in hard labour.

Police in Karongi District is holding five people for allegedly involving underage children in hard labour.

The suspects were subjecting the children to hard labour including those as young as 10 years.

Although Rwanda has over the years drastically reduced child labour, the problem is still a big challenge both locally and globally.

According to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), an estimated 150 million children worldwide are engaged in child labour. In the least developed countries, nearly one in four children (ages 5 to 14) are engaged in labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development.

Child labour comes with negative consequences both at the individual and national level. Child labourers are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development.

In November 2016, a report by the Ministry of Public Service and Labour indicated that there had been commendable progress toward the elimination of child labour, including its worst forms, in Rwanda.

Among the achievements cited was the adoption of the Early Childhood Development Policy that came into force in September 2016, which addresses the holistic development of the child and promotes inter-sectoral planning for the welfare of children.

However, for Rwanda to sustain the current pace in the fight against child labor, more stringent measures should be taken against the perpetrators while intensifying sensitization of the public through local leaders and other relevant avenues.

No parent or guardian should let their child to get involved in child labour. With free education and other childhood development initiatives at the national and local level, there is no excuse whatsoever for any Rwandan child to end up in child labour.  Child labour is an abuse of children’s rights and a barrier to holistic development of children who hold the future of any given society.

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