The New Times (Kigali)

8 February 2013

Rwanda: Child Labour Is a Stain On Us All

editorial

Over eleven percent of children between the ages of five and eleven are engaged in economic activities. The statistics are shocking. That means that about 324,659 children, who should be in school, are not getting a chance to study.

These extremely unfortunate numbers were revealed during this year's Child Labour Workshop, which was organised by Winrock International and the Government of Rwanda. According to studies, the vast majority of children are employed as either agricultural workers, especially in tea plantations, or as househelps. This situation is not acceptable.

Those people using child labourers ought to face the full force of the law; there is no two ways about it. These people, either intentionally or not, are robbing these children of a future. It is up to them to ensure that their workforce is of legal age; they must be held responsible.

However, it is not just the responsibility of those handing out employment. Parents must also understand that their children cannot be used in either the fields or kitchens. This means that they must be sensitised and, if necessary, they must be helped by the rest of the community. Many of these parents are forced to do this because of poverty. So, finding a way to deal with the root causes of child labour is something that must be tackled as well.

We must act and do so now. Every time a child loses the opportunity to fulfill their potential, the entire community loses a bit of its soul.

Let this stain on our community be cleansed sooner, rather than later.

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