Children have commended the government for promoting children’s rights, education, fighting early pregnancies, and fighting school dropouts, among other challenges facing children across the country.
They made the observation during the International African Child Day celebrated on June 16. This year, the event was celebrated in Bugesera district, Eastern Province at national level.
“We are thankful to President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame for their love to children. They invite us to mark Christmas and New year. This kind and loving practice should serve as an example to the parents,” Valentin Irakoze, Children’s representative said.
Children say a lot has been done to support them including the establishment of national children’s summit where they are allowed to share ideas on matters concerning national interests.
Joseline Mukanshimiyimana, another child said that they have been advised to study and work hard to develop themselves.
“I am a carpenter. I make chairs, doors, and beds. I get money to pay my school fees and get other life necessities. It is good to be self-reliant,” the 17-year-old Mukanshimiyimana said.
Among the challenges highlighted during the International Day of African Child included children living on the streets, school dropouts, and early pregnancy cases reported recurrently across the country.
According to Nadine Umutoni, Director General of the National Child Development Agency, children lack parental love because of family conflicts.
“When there is a family conflict, children are the first to feel the impacts. We are obliged to go into these families to counsel them. We reunite them for the common goal of raising their children,” Umutoni said.
Prof. Jeannette Bayisenge, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion said other challenges facing children are shortage of services offered by Early Childhood Development Centers(ECDs).
ECDs support a child in these critical early years, providing holistic access to early learning, nutrition, hygiene, and protection.
“The ECDs are still few, we would want to have at least three per village for children to get good services,” Prof. Bayisenge said.
In Rwanda, there are 31,000 ECDs across the country.
International Day of the African Child commemorates the 16 June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa. The demonstration was led by the African students who were against Apartheid-inspired education.