Reacting to the video of very young girls singing and dancing for the ruling party CNDD-FDD, Jacques Nshimirimana, Chairman of the National Federation of Associations in charge of defending Children's rights in Burundi (FENADEB) says, children should be taught democratic principles instead of political ideologies.
"Tolerance, mutual acceptance, living in harmony with others, selling one's own ideas, accepting justice decision, respecting human rights, etc are some of the democratic principles that children need to know at their early age. They must also know the principles of power separation (the executive, legislative and judicial powers) and understand the role of each one as far as democracy is concerned", says Jacques Nshimirimana.
The defender of children's rights says all the problems that the country is going through result in the fact that current leaders do not know how to differentiate these powers and how they work. Children should not learn parties' ideologies but democratic principles. He proposes that the Ministry of Education should elaborate programs related to free democratic principles which should be taught in secondary schools.
Teachers should also be trained on democratic principles
"Teachers need to be trained about democratic principles before teaching them to their students as some of them do not know them", says Isaïe Nkinzingabo, Headmaster of Kamuri Fundamental School in KIRUNDO Northern Province. He says it is necessary to teach students the democratic principles as they are the future leaders without forgetting that some of them are politically active and have the age that allows them to elect. He continues to say that it is relevant for children to know democratic principles as the country suffers democracy-related problems.
A mother who spoke on condition of anonymity says it is very important to teach children democratic principles even at home (from the time when they can understand them and be able to make their own criticism). "The more they learn them early, the more they become responsible", she says.
She also says democratic principles should be taught at school, in different youth associations and parties' meetings as well. Politicians should not teach the doctrines of their parties to children whose age does not allow them to be involved in politics.
Burundi has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1990.