By Elias Hakizimana.
As the new year begins, some children are ready to go back to school while others will stay suffering from underage labour, whose consequences undermine their future.
Across the country, children are still found in works that are over their age size and most of the times this results into consequences like physical stunting.
According to the Ministerial guidelines on child labour, Children aged between the ages of 13 to 15 are allowed to perform light work, which includes domestic work and other family income generating activities inside or outside of their household, in not more than 20 hours a week. The minimum employment age in Rwanda is 16 years.
In 2018, police in the Eastern Province rescued children aged 13 to 15 from a ‘child labour, human trafficking’ scheme where they were going to be taken to neighbouring countries to work as goat herders.
Article 6 Relating to the Protection of the Child defines a child as “any person under 18 years of age.”
However, children are still found in rice farms, mining sites, conducting commercial activities, rearing cattle and other hazardous workplaces.
Child Right Activists believe that when a child is protected from underage labour their future is also the sunniest.
Innocent Ntakirutimana, Child protection and participation programme coordinator at Children Voice Today (CVT) told The Inspirer that a child has responsibilities to help parents through domestic light works such as hygiene activities, going to shop small stuffs, fetching water but on his/her age size.
During the closing of ‘Intore mu biruhuko’ programme on December 30, 2019, Ntakirutimana called up on parents and people who employ children to respect basic child rights such as the right to education, right to health and protect them against any kind of violence.
“We emphasize that a child must be at school, but due to unexpected reasons like being orphan, a child can end up by seeing him/herself in different works but employers must give him/her jobs following his/her age. They must protect his/her dignity and help him/her to plan for a good future,” Ntakirutimana said.
Through the project dubbed ‘Time to talk’ where children find occasion to share their views on children’s works, CVT gives an opportunity to children especially during the holidays to talk about what can be done to avoid underage labour.
Assoumpta Nabayo,15, a student at G.S.Kabusunzu, advised children to avoid works that are over their age. She also called parents and employers to respect children rights.
“Carrying heavy luggage, deprivation of time to rest are among the threats to children growth. I wish that the Government can increase mobilization and tell everyone to stop using underage children in harmful activities to their lives,” she said.
According to Global Estimates of Child Labour 2012 to 2016, worldwide, 218 million children between 5 and 17 years of age are in employment where 152 million are victims of child labour.
Half of them (72.1 million) were found in Africa; 62.1 million in Asia; 10.7 million in the Americas; 1.2 million in the Arab States and 5.5 million in Europe and Central Asia.
46,041 total views, 2 views today