As the world was celebrating the International Day of the African Child yesterday, Gasabo districts with all partners met in Nduba sector. Among other threats to child rights, school drop outs and teenage pregnancies, as a result of irresponsible parents and leaders.
Ceremonies took place in Gasanze primary school, located around the truck road to Nduba compost. It is a dust road, trucks speed high, while back from the compost and empty, which causes accidents. The last took lives to three children of this school two months ago.
On this matter, JMV Ntaganzwa who represented the district officials, said humps have been put in the road, and traffic police is permanent there to govern speed. However, no hump was seen all along the road, and a policeman said he was there, only for the event.
Alarming findings on teenage pregnancies
About teenage pregnancies, Gasabo ranks in top ten with 360 pregnanted children in 2016. According to Evariste Murwanashyaka, a researcher from CLADHO, “17500 children in Rwanda were pregnanted in 2016, Gasabo is among top ten with 360 cases, where three cases in one primary school of Rugando in Kimihurura. In the same district, a twelve girl lived as wife, in Rusororo, while the landlord is a local leader”.
Evariste warns the Rwandan society that the phenomenon is more dangerous, as parents, teachers and leaders keep silent.
Moreover, worse is that 90% of perpetrators are adults (25-35 years), and include family members, teachers, family friends and local leaders; who are expected to protect children and denounce any violation of their rights.
Many of parents expel children, and this exposes them to the risk of prostitution and getting the second pregnancy. In this Gasabo district, a fourteen girl has two children, as her parents expelled her from home. Similar case in Kamonyi, Nyarubaka, where a thirteen years girl has two kids, has her own kitchen, and struggle to get food.
Therefore, if 17500 are pregnant, triple of the have made sex for sure, and this is why the number of street children goes higher, and AIDS is spread quickly in children.
All needs advocacy to address the problems, and REFAC is determined to. On behalf of REFAC (Rwanda Education For All Coalition), JMV Uwitonze, secretary to the board, this needs involvement of all levels: government, civil society, teachers, media, etc.
“As the government treats malaria as endemic, like tuberculosis and AIDS, the same way should be applied on teenage pregnancies. Besides, punishments should be imposed to every one for his/her role: predators, parents, neighbors and leaders”.
June 16, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity. It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976, when about ten thousand black school children marched in a column more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young students were shot dead, more than a hundred people were killed in the protests of the following two weeks, and more than a thousand were injured.
It is an opportunity for the entire continent to honor the children who lost their lives that day as well as to reflect upon the numerous challenges that children in Africa still face today. Dedicating a particular day on this significant issue provides a great opportunity to highlight and resolve the situations that African children are facing every day.
Jean Baptiste Karegeya