The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Call for Tougher Measures Against Child Labour

Experts in child labour issues have warned that unless tougher measures are devised to eliminate child labour in the country, which they said is still high, Rwanda's Millennium Development Goal on education will meet hitches.

The experts were speaking at the 2013 Rwanda Child Labour workshop organised by Winrock International and the Government of Rwanda dubbed, "Pathways to Sustainability," which is ongoing in Kigali.

The conference aims at highlighting the success of the local-based US Department of Labour (USDOL) anti-child labour funded project, REACH, and to gather recommendations on how to promote, sustain and scale child labour in the country.

REACH is Rwanda Education Alternatives for Children.

The recommendations will lead to the development of a "Framework of Action for Sustainability of Child Labour Reduction and Prevention in Rwanda."

Chanda Uluca, the International Relations Officer of USDOL, said to successfully eradicate the child labour, there is still need to sustain actions and programmes, including sensitising parents.

Chanda said organisations employing underage children should send them to schools.

USDOL is currently funding a four-year $50m project called Global Action Programme on Child Labour in 38 countries, including Rwanda.

The agriculture sector, especially tea plantation and household chores, remains the major employers of underage children in the country.

Some 11.2 per cent of children, aged between five and 17, engage in economic activities, with 79 per cent of them in agriculture, the 2008 Rwanda National Child Labour survey shows.

The 'Child Labour in Agriculture' household survey, conducted by ICF international in January last year in the Northern Province, also estimated 183,000 out of 214,000 children (ages seven and older) were involved in agricultural activities.

The REACH project, which started in 2009, also rescued and prevented more than 8,500 children from exploitative labour, 52 per cent of them girls, by giving them education alternatives.

"The 12-Year Basic Education programme is testimony of the government's commitment to combat child labour in the country," Chanda said.

Damien Nzamwita, an expert in child labour issues at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, said poverty, domestic violence, ignorance by parents, and HIV/Aids remain, the major causes of child labour in the country.

"We are aware that children constitute a big part of the countries development," Anne Mugabo, the director-general of labour in the Labour Ministry, said.

Dr Jean Claude Nkurikiyinka, the REACH project director, said Rwanda is on the right path against the vice, and the success of his organisation is a perfect example showing how possible it is to sustain project actions and contribute to the reduction of child labour in the country.

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