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Rwanda marks Day of African Child

Rwanda has announced plans to stamp out child labour which victimizes hundreds of thousands of children across the country.

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda’s Integrated Household Living Conditions data, about 367,810 children in Rwanda are engaged in child labour.

The small central African country on Saturday celebrated the 25th anniversary for the Day of the African child in Gikoba Village, Tabagwe Sector in Nyagatare District, Eastern Province.

The Day of the African child is commemorated every year on June 16 by all member states of African Union, and its partners. This year it was celebrated under the theme: "Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights."

Speaking at the event, Judith Uwizeye, Rwanda minister of public service and labour, said that individuals and organisations using under age children in their work related activities will face tough times ahead.

"Children are supposed to be in schools, not in labour force. It is good that we have this day today to try and resolve the problem facing our children," she told hundreds of parents and children gathered at the event which also attracted Rwanda First Lady, Jeannette Kagame.

Uwizeye called upon parents to allow their children have access to education, adding that the government is committed to child rights, assuring that it is their duty as government to see into it that the rights of the children are protected.

She stated that the ministry will work together with all stakeholders to eliminate all forms of child labour in the next few years.

However Dr. Papias Malimba Musafiri, Rwanda minister of education said that the Day is an opportunity to sensitise communities, dangers of engaging children in hazardous work.

"Our economic progress loses a lot of meaning if hundreds and thousands of children are not in schools and have no hopes of a future," he added.

The Ministry of labour has laid our several strategies to do way with all forms of child labour across the country, among others, include withdrawing of all children engaged in child labour through periodical inspections at establishments known to be susceptible to employing them.

There are also rehabilitation strategies by providing required assistance for all children withdrawn from exploitive child labour and integrating them in formal education and vocational school

At the event, Rwanda First Lady called on parents and all stake holders to work with the government to eliminate child labour and protect the rights of children.

"Let’s ensure every child is protected and allowed to grow in a condusive family environment. Services to our children like education, health services and other forms of protection must be secured for our children," Mrs Kagame stressed.

"The girl child should not be forced to early marriage and should be given rights to education."

The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the OAU Organisation of African Unity.

It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.

In Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, about ten thousand black school children marched in a column more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language.


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