Children attending the 7th Annual Children’s Summit want the anti-child labour fight to be stepped up. The summit, which took place yesterday, provided a platform for children to discuss issues affecting them, and their role in the country’s economic development.
Isabelle Kamikazi, a 15 year old student from Lycée Notre dame des Apôtres in Musanze District, said that some children’s rights were being violated.
“Some are working as house helps doing heavy work, others are working on plantations or work at stone quarries, yet they are not old enough to work in such places”, Kamikazi said.
She said children can help with household chores but should not be employed by other people to carry out activities that might lead to health complications and truancy.
Among other children’s issues Kamikazi wants to be addressed is the reintegration of street children into stable family units because they live unsafe lives.
The Vice President of the Summit, Carine Uwizeyimana, 16, said that children’s rights need to be enforced; especially the right to education and the right to a home.
Gideon Nsigaye, 15, a senior two student at Groupe Scholaire Nyamure, Nyanza District, said children shouldn’t be overworked at home or school, adding that they should be given light work that won’t injure or leave them unhappy.
Among the other issues he highlighted was the fact that some go to school all day without anything to eat, saying it affected their studies and concentration at school. He also added that the One-Laptop-Per-Child program should be country wide and not limited to a few schools in the city.
Noala Skinner, the UNICEF Country Representative, said that Rwanda was demonstrating the importance of providing space for children to express their views on matters that affect them just as the UN Convention on the rights of children envisioned.
She urged the children to seize the opportunity and speak out on what they think needs to be done to build a Rwanda fit for them.