7 December 2017

Rwanda: National Children Forum Opens Today

Rwandan children have spoken out on issues they want to be discussed during the 12th children summit due to take place today at Parliament Buildings in Kigali.

The National Children's Summit is a consultative forum which brings together children's delegates from across the country to exchange views and ideas on the issues affecting them.

This year's summit is held under the theme, 'Positive Parenting: Foundation of the Rwanda we want'. It is aimed at generating momentum for enhanced children's rights, and duties, and parents' responsibilities for their children to grow into productive and patriotic citizen and active actors in the attainment of the vision of the country.

Information from the National Commission for Children shows that the meeting will attract 416 heads of children's forum committees at the sector level; 30 heads of children's forum committees at the district level and 30 representatives for children with disabilities at the district level.

Others include 12 representatives of children living in refugee camps; 30 children mentors from districts; six mentors of children in refugee camps; members of cabinet; parliamentarians; district mayors; vice mayors in charge of social affairs; and development partners.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, different children shared their thoughts on what they feel should be discussed.

Fabien Micyomyiza, 11, a resident of Kinyinya in Gasabo District, says that the issue of domestic violence in homes should be high on the agenda.

"They should look at how to help our parents solve conflicts that arise between themselves so that we live in peace," he said.

Prince Iradukunda, a P5 pupil from Gasabo District, said there is need to resettle street children.

Cephas Caleb Shema, an eight-year old from Nyamirambo in Nyarugenge District, said that he would be interested in hearing national leaders tell children about what they aspired to be when they were young and how they achieved it, as well as the challenges they face as leaders.

"I want to know if it is really difficult to be a leader," he said.

Albina Shannon, 11, a pupil at Blooming Buds in Kacyiru, Kigali, wants the forum to tackle the issue of youth unemployment.

"I want them to help the people that do not have jobs to get them," she said.

She commended government for the development of the country, especially in the area of gender equality.

Abdenego Chereth, 7, from the same school, said he would ask the leaders to make education more practical for them for example by "establishing school farms for children to learn about animals while seeing them."

Emery Niyomugisha, 7, and Eric Mugisha Guma, 9, from Nyarutarama, a Kigali city suburb, echoed similar sentiments.

For them, the forum should look into how to improve their learning by introducing more good books, new toys, and new chairs in their schools.

Officials at the National Children's Commission said they expect the summit to remind parents about their responsibility toward children and to serve as role models for their children; as well as encourage children to be committed to their obligations.

It is also expected to revitalise parents' commitments to talk to their children about important subjects like reproductive health, as well as making the children forum committees more active.

The National Children's Summit was established in 2004.

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