The purpose of this research was to identify the status of child labour in Rwanda and analyze its impact on child rights as well as propose the recommendations to end child labour in Rwanda. Child labour is a denial of children’s rights and a barrier to holistic child development. Despite the effort of the Government of Rwanda of reducing Poverty through EDPRS I, and other programs and laws regarding the reduction of child labour, the phenomenon of child labour persists, though it has decreased considerably.
Previous report from National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda shows that children aged 5-17 years are still engaged in economic/ employment activities. Most of them work full time while others combine going to school with work. To combat Child labour, the government of Rwanda established different laws relating to Rights and Protection of the Child against Violence, minimum age for admission to employment and also put up a steering committee is in charge of advocacy and sensitization about child labour and children’s rights as well as reporting/follow-up cases of child labour.
National Human Right Commission (NHRC) is entrusted with power to carry out research on thematic issues and publishing findings with purpose of promoting Human Rights including prevention of any form of child labour . The commission is aware that the problem of child labour in Rwanda is not yet totally eliminated due to multiple reasons including parental poverty and illiteracy; social and economic circumstances; and lack of community awareness. Analysis of impact of child labour on child rights was discussed in this research.
Mixed methods were used in this study where quantitative method was used to get information related to the forms of child labour, causes and consequences of child labour among 421 children aged 5-17 years engaging in various activities. Qualitative method was used to get views on the child labour causes, consequences, current child labour prevention measures and mitigations to eradicated child labour in Rwanda among key stakeholders, parents, teachers and local leaders.
A total of 421 children were found in various child labour in 11 sampled districts. Out of 421 children engaged in various activities, (163) 38.7% were found carrying heavy loads such as lifting luggage, goods and food crops; the majority 151(92.6%) of them were male. According to age, 70(42.9%) of children who carry the heavy loads were aged between 13 to 15 years. The researcher revealed that 98 (23.3%) of study participants were engaged in domestic work. The main domestic activities reported by the children including cutting and hawking firewood for sell, cooking and washing clothers and taking care of children. Out of 98 children found in paid domestic activities 70(71.4%) were female children. According to age, the majority 56(57.2%) of children found in child labour activities domestic activities were aged 16 to 17 years . Result show that significant number of child children engaged in child labour activities were found in cities, market and bus stations. It was observed that working hours depend on type of work, earnings and place where children are working.
Carrying out heavy loads and mining being too tiresome violate Child’s right to good health if it is done at less than 18 years. Engaging in domestic work and in small businesses denies and violates a child right to education, right to family, right to protection particularly by his/her family.
The study highlights poverty as the main pushing factor to child labour as was stated by the majority of the respondents who participated in the study. The major consequence of child labour reported in this study was school dropout despite all the measures put up by the government of Rwanda to combat child labour.
The report stresses that combating child labour requires addressing the gaps as indicated in relation to the measures taken. Although the measures were put in place; there is need for implementation and this requires sensitization, training of different authorities, parents, teachers, children themselves and the citizens in general about child labour and child rights.
The study recommends different Institutions to have an initiative to promote child rights and protection although there is long way to go before children are given fully the rights and protection which the Government obviously pursues to give them. Local leaders should sensitize citizens against child labour and make a follow up on the implementation of laws and policies, there should also be the enforcement of all possible mechanisms to eradicate child labour and rehabilitate victim children to stop engaging in child labour activities. There should be a set-up of a training manual for child labour steering committees at village, cell and sectors level and develop national reporting system for child labour case and follow-up mechanism. MIFOTRA needs to provide onsite training about child labour to owners of mines, construction and bricks manufacturing sites.