The New Times (Kigali)

1 May 2014

Rwanda: Child Labour Cases Drop

Child labour in the country has reduced drastically over the years, a new survey shows.

According to the 2008 Rwanda National Child Labour Survey, agriculture employed most children, at 79.3 per cent. But this has reduced to 40.8 per cent, according to the Integrated Household Survey (IHS) of 2010-2013, presented on Tuesday at a consultative meeting on child labour held in Kigali.

The survey shows that urban areas have the leading cases of child labour, especially Kigali with about 12 per cent, while domestic work had leading occurrences with 31 per cent.

Child labour refers to the employment of children under 18 years in any work that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend school, and work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous for their age.

Damien Nzamwita, the in charge of social security policy and child labour control at the Ministry Public Service and Labour, cited poverty, cultural rigidities, and domestic violence as the leading causes of child labour.

Nzamwita attributed the reduction in child labour to the Ministerial Order passed in 2010 that seeks to achieve zero cases of child labour and the Nine-Year Basic Education introduced in 2009 that saw more children enrolled in school.

The Order, among others, calls for extensive sensitisation of masses about the dangers of child labour.

"The government's poverty eradication programmes, such as Ubudehe, also played a role in turning around the lives of masses economically, hence reducing the need for poor young people to seek jobs," Nzamwita said.

The ministry managed to rescue about 8,300 children from labour between 2010 and 2013, and helped them return to school, according to Nzamwita.

"Child labour affects a child's study, leads to stunted growth, ill health and sometimes death," he warned.

It was noted that many challenges like poverty, behavioural rigidities and domestic violence still undermine in the fight against it.

The Rwandan law punishes people enlisting child labour with up to five years in jail or a fine ranging from Rwf200,000 to Rwf5 million, or both.

Felix Muramutsa, the deputy director of Winrock International Rwanda, an NGO that advocates for the fight against child labour, said about $5 million had been dedicated to the fight against vice in the next four years.

"We've already started a drive to end child labour in tea plantations located in about 12 districts," Muramutsa said, adding that they target to train about 30 labour inspectors under the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, who help in the fight against the practice.

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