Rwanda, 17 November 2010: Children’s Summit focuses on education fit for children
KIGALI, 17 November 2010- At the sixth Children’s Summit, now an annual event since 2004, over 400 children from across Rwanda and neighboring East African countries, talked with cabinet members about how they wanted to improve their schools and learning experience.
“This Summit is important as it will help us all see what type of education is fit for us as children,” said Jean Bosco Ishimwe, the Chair of the Children’s Organizing Committee. “I hope that recommendations from this Summit will also be implemented beginning with the creation of a national Children’s Commission, to see through solutions that we have proposed,” he added.
Children’s Summits in Rwanda emerged in 2004, with the support of UNICEF, to provide a forum for children to participate in national development processes. Since their inception, these summits have been organized by children and focus on concerns raised by them during district children’s forums.
Ideas from these summits have made their way into Rwanda’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy and have also led to children’s involvement in other national dialogue forums, including the annual National Paediatric Conference on Children and AIDS.
“The UN in Rwanda is extremely pleased that Rwanda has internalized the principle of children’s participation,” said Dr. Joseph Foumbi, acting UN resident Coordinator and UNICEF Representative, in his opening remarks at the Summit.”It is a well known fact, based on over thirty years of solid research from around the world, that investing in children and youth is key to a strong economy and a healthy civic society,” he added.
Since the 1970s, the notion of participation in development has been widely acknowledged as a basic right and principle of development programming. Evidence indicates that involving children in age-appropriate processes can positively influence development outcomes.
The theme for this year’s summit focuses on the role of children in improving their education. While answering questions from children on this subject, cabinet members from the Minister of Gender to the Minister of Education all promised to do their part in putting in place schools fit for children, or Child Friendly Model Schools.
These model schools, initiated by UNICEF in 2005 (and adopted by Government as the minimum quality standard for basic education around the country) now reach 140,000 children directly and over two million indirectly with an environment that is conducive to learning, inclusive, participative and protective- i.e. a school fit for children.
The UN in Rwanda remains committed to supporting the people and Government of Rwanda in applying Child Friendly School standards to all schools so that children can help shape an education that is fit for them
For photos, interviews or further information, please contact:
Misbah Sheikh, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Rwanda