Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Rwanda

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Rwanda, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748a9c.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Rwanda is participating in a regional, four-year ILO-IPEC program funded by USDOL that is designed to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflicts in Central Africa.3043 In August 2001, UNICEF, along with the International Committee for the Red Cross, the World Food Programme, the International Rescue Committee, and Save the Children (UK), set up a rehabilitation center to care for, rehabilitate and reintegrate former child soldiers in Rwanda.3044

In 2000, Rwanda's Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the World Bank, initiated a five-year, USD 35 million program to build capacity in the educational sector.3045 The program includes components designed to construct new schools, increase access to primary schools, improve the quality of education, improve teacher training and curriculum development, increase textbook availability, strengthen the administration of the educational system, and increase community involvement in the rehabilitation of the educational system.3046

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, the ILO estimated that 41.4 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Rwanda were working.3047 Most children work in the agricultural sector.3048 A study by the Ministry of Labor and UNICEF estimated that 2,140 girls are engaged in prostitution in urban areas.3049 Rwandan children have reportedly served as soldiers in several regional conflicts. Children have reportedly served in Rwanda's official paramilitary Local Defense Force and with forces opposing the Government of Rwanda.3050 Child soldiers have also been recruited by Rwandan-based groups engaged in combat against the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi.3051 Rwandan army soldiers reportedly helped the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) abduct and forcibly recruit children to serve in the RCD armed forces in the DRC.3052 Some children have reportedly joined the Rwandan army where they performed non-military tasks.3053

Primary education in Rwanda is compulsory from the ages of 7 to 12 years.3054 Families must pay fees to enroll their children in school, though fees are waived for orphans.3055 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 114.4 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 90.9 percent.3056 According to UNICEF, almost one-third of Rwanda's 700,000 children have little or no access to quality and equitable education.3057 Of the children who enter the first grade, 76 percent reach the fifth grade.3058 There is a high dropout and repetition rate among primary school children.3059 Public schools lack basic supplies and cannot accommodate all primary age school children, and private schools are inaccessible or too costly for the majority of the population.3060 Attendance rates are not available for Rwanda. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.3061

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for full-time employment is 18 years and 14 years for apprenticeships if the child has completed primary school.3062 Children under 18 cannot work without permission from parents or guardians and may not work at night.3063 Neither forced nor bonded labor by children, nor trafficking, is specifically prohibited.3064 Under Article 374 of the Criminal Code, trafficking is an aggravated offense, with a doubled penalty for delivering a minor into prostitution upon entering or exiting the country.3065 Legislation from 1977 sets the minimum voluntary age for military service at age 16.3066 The Ministry of Public Service and Labor does not effectively enforce these laws in part because of the large number of children who are heads of household.3067

The Government of Rwanda ratified ILO Convention 138 on April 15, 1981, and ILO Convention 182 on May 23, 2000.3068


3043 The first phase of the project ended in 2002. The second phase of the project is estimated to be completed in three years. ILO-IPEC, Regional Programme on the Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict in Central Africa (Phase I: Identification of a Strategy for Concerted Action), project document, Geneva, July, 2001, 1. See also ILO-IPEC, Regional Programme on the Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflicts in Central Africa (Phase I: Identification of a Strategy for Concerted Action), technical progress report, Geneva, September 15, 2002.

3044 UNICEF, Hundreds of Ex-Child Soldiers Begin Rehabilitation in Rwanda- Newly Demobilized Children Get Trauma Counselling While Families Are Traced, August 20, 2001, [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://www.hri.ca/children/conflict/rwanda_200801.htm. As of June 10, 2002, the program had reunited 328 child soldiers with their families. See Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Rwanda: Interview with UNICEF representative Theophane Nikyema", IRINnews.org, [online], June 10, 2002 [cited October 10, 2002]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=28223&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes&SelectCountry=RWANDA.

3045 World Bank, Rwanda- Human Resources Development Project, project appraisal document, no. 19990-Rw, Washington, D.C., May 8, 2000, 1 [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/ WDSServlet?pcont=details&eid=000094946_00051905304940.

3046 Ibid.

3047 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

3048 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Rwanda, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 549-50, Section 6d [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/ 8398.htm.

3049 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Rwanda: Interview".

3050 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Rwanda," in Global Report 2001, 2001, [cited November 21, 2002]; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org. The rebel Rwandan Liberation Army (ALIR) reportedly had several hundred child soldiers in their ranks, some of whom served in combat. See Human Rights Watch, "Rwanda: Human Rights Developments," in World Report 2002, 2002, [cited October 10, 2002]; available from http://www.hrw.org/ wr2k2/africa9.html#developments.

3051 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Rwanda." Human Rights Watch, "World Report 2002: Rwanda."

3052 Human Rights Watch, "World Report 2002: Rwanda."

3053 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Rwanda, 548-49, Section 5.

3054 Government of Rwanda: Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Enquete à Indicateurs Multiples (MICS2)
Rapport Preliminaire: Rwanda, Kigali, January 11, 2001, 8.

3055 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Rwanda, 548-49, Section 5.3056 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002.

3057 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Rwanda: UNICEF Lays Out Humanitarian Action Plan For 2002", [online], November 29, 2001 [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/ report.asp?ReportID=16535&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes&SelectCountry=RWANDA.

3058 Government of Rwanda: Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Enquete à Indicateurs Multiples (MICS2), 8.

3059 Ibid., 4.

3060 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Rwanda, 548-49, Section 5.

3061 For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

3062 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Rwanda, 549-50, Section 6d.

3063 Ibid.

3064 Ibid. See also Human Rights Internet (HRI), "Rwanda: Thematic Reports," in For the Record 2000: The United Nations Human Rights System, 2000, [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://www.hri.ca/fortherecord2000/ vol2/rwandatr.htm.

3065 According to the Protection Project, prostitution and compelling another person to become engaged in prostitution are prohibited by Articles 363-365 of the Criminal Code. Punishment for these crimes is imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine. Protection Project, "Rwanda," in Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2002, [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://209.190.246.239/ver2/cr/Rwanda.pdf.

3066 Global March Against Child Labor, The Worst Forms of Child Labour: Rwanda, [online] [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://www.globalmarch.org/worstformsreport/world/rwanda.html.

3067 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Rwanda, 549-50, Section 6d.

3068 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited October 21, 2002]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

Search Refworld

Countries