Over 120 children representing various associations and rights movements have travelled from as far as Afghanistan, Nepal and Latin America to join their Rwandan counterparts to discuss child business matters.
Brought together by Save the Children at the first Child Participation Learning event, the participants will, for the next two days discuss the “Children’s Participation Influencing quality programming.”
This is the first global meeting of its kind and on a pilot project in Rwanda with children from Uganda, Tanzania, and Afghanistan, Philippines, Mynmar and other European countries.
The children will share their experiences on child rights and their role in participatory decision making but will also make recommendations that will be pushed to leaders on a global level.
Phillipe Adapoe, the Country Director Save the Children-Rwanda said, “the event is a strategic opportunity to bring together learning across a number of countries to understand, directly from children and organizations, the achievements, challenges, tools and process related to children’s participation influencing quality programming.”
Save the Children also believes, that for Rwanda to develop, it needs to hear child voices and grasp what their contribution to country development could be.
“Global evidence shows that anywhere in the world, children who are capable of lateral thinking and problem solving can enhance their coping (in context of poverty) by identifying alternative options to their current circumstances and devising creative solutions,” said Adapoe in a press briefing today.
Rwanda is expected to take lead in sharing best practices which have seen children play a role in voicing their concerns on child rights such as quality education and health, putting an end to early child marriages and the increasing concerns on child pregnancies.
Nepal and Rwanda have the biggest number of participants at the meeting and one of the concerns is cultural aspects that still hamper the implementation of child based policies.
“We have made success in reducing child labor from 100% to 60% in the last four years. Our voices have been heard through collective campaigns organized by children forums across Nepal but we need a change in cultural aspects among parents,” said Sagar Manandhar -a Nepalese teenager known for steering a national movement against child labour, the Child Protection in Bricklaying in Nepal.
While child labour in Rwanda is in most cases concentrated in mining and tea plantations, in Nepal, child labour is common in bricklaying.
Marcel Sibomana, the Save the Children child rights Governance Program Manager also said that despite successful measures and policies in education of Rwandan children, literacy and budget planning is still an itching concern.
“Our voices will push for more literacy programs especially among children. Access to reading material is still low and we think that children should be a focus in this area in order to have an informed society,” Sibomana said.
“We also want to see children involved in budget planning at the low community levels in order to address the concerns of children at a policy level,” he said.
Save the children international is expected to push the recommendations on national and global level through letters addressed to heads of State and government and high level meetings.
“The concerns of the children are our concerns. We act in line with their views. That is the reason why we are here to listen to them to change the way children are treated globally,” said Adapoe.