Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi yesterday described children as the backbone of the country’s socio-economic development, pledging the government’s support for the benefit of the country.
The Premier made the remarks while officially opening the 7th Children’s Summit that brought together about 800 children and government officials to discuss issues affecting them as well as their role in the country’s economic development.
The summit was organised under the theme ‘Children and equity; our contribution to EDPRS’.
He challenged the children to be patriotic as future leaders, saying the country needs determined citizens who will govern it after the current leaders.
“We will be happy to see some of you here as a future Prime Minister, gender ministers or senators, because these positions are yours tomorrow, which is why we are taking the responsibility to shape you,” he said.
“However, to be a responsible citizen you must avoid drugs, alcohol, premature sex; you have to avoid these at whatever cost because the country is looking up to you”.
Passing on President Paul Kagame’s message to the children, the Premier said the Head of State had pledged his continued support.
“The President and First Lady Jeannette Kagame have requested me to inform you that you sought the creation of National Commission for Children (NCC) and it was created. They ready to provide more support,” he said.
Anthony Lake, UNICEF Global Executive Director, could not attend the summit but relayed a message through a statement.
“Rwanda is on the right track to meet seven of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) your progress in reducing poverty, enrolling children in schools and reducing child and maternal mortality, makes you an example far beyond your borders,” he said in the statement.
“Your commitment to innovative methods to reach every citizen, such as the One-Cow-Per-PoorFamily, rapid SMS texting for maternal health, and your national health insurance scheme ‘Mutuelle de Santé’, is saving lives and fostering hope”.
Lake advised children to be innovative, adding that the world was watching and learning from Rwanda’s experience.
Pascal Mutijima a 17-year old participant from Karongi District, noted he was happy with the way the government is supporting them. He however added that more efforts were needed to protect vulnerable children.
“What we need is the government providing more support, especially to vulnerable children and orphans, to ensure that we don’t live in institutions like orphanages,” he said.
The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Aloisea Inyumba, promised that the government would do whatever was possible to continue advocating for their rights, adding that it was their responsibility to ensure that children live a better life.