Prevent Child Labor in Rwanda through EducationRATIONALE
Child labor in Rwanda is the function of a complex set of factors including poverty, HIV/AIDs, the social dislocations of the genocide, and cultural acceptance of child labor (particularly in rural areas). Poverty, in particular, accounts for most of the roughly 500,000 child laborers who toil in unskilled jobs that often pose serious hazards to their physical and psychological health. Poor educational facilities, low teacher quality, insufficient monitoring and support for vulnerable children, and lack of official policy and action against child labor conspire to keep these children in exploitive labor. While some children end up in domestic servitude or begging on urban streets, most work on smallholder farms where technology is rudimentary and productivity low. Child labor creates a vicious circle of poverty and underdevelopment because children who have been deprived of an education are unlikely to find skilled employment as adults. Winrock has selected seven target districts where REACH will focus on withdrawing children from and preventing children from entering into exploitive labor. The target districts were selected for direct educational services because each of them meets the criteria of working in subsistence agriculture in hazardous conditions and are characterized by small coffee, tea, sugar, and animal herding farms, as well as other farm sectors that use child labor. Our partners, SNV and FAWE, have local presence in these districts and possess agricultural and educational expertise that dovetails perfectly with the activities envisioned by REACH.
The overall goal of the Rwanda Education Alternatives for Children (REACH) project is to reduce child labor in Rwanda. REACH has five major objectives. First, it will withdraw 5,200 and prevent 3,000 children and youth (under 18) from exploitive child labor and link them to educational services or workforce opportunities in rural areas of Rwanda. REACH will also strengthen policy and institutions to address child labor in Rwanda, raise awareness of the dangers of child labor and benefits of education, provide research and new data to inform this process, and ensure sustainability of efforts through capacity building at the government and community levels. REACH will strengthen primary schools, establish non-formal pre-schools, agricultural vocational programs, and provide scholarships to increase access to education in remote areas, on subsistence farms, where over 80% of the child labor is found.
REACH offers a unique approach to accomplishing the five objectives for withdrawing and preventing children from exploitive labor as set forth by the US Department of Labor. To reduce barriers to education and strengthen systems, the program will rely on our association partner, FAWE, to provide financial and material direct services assistance to children to attend formal school, "Catch Up" programs, and an innovative model farm school vocational training program for out-of-school youth. To improve families' ability to reduce child labor and send children to school, REACH will include strategies to increase agricultural productivity and incomes. Winrock will leverage its extensive experience in Africa combating child labor in agriculture and SNV's experience in developing the value chain in rural Rwanda. We will address the important link between child labor and low agricultural productivity by introducing inputs such as planting technologies, extension services, and enterprise training to increase productivity and incomes, thereby obviating the need for cheap child labor. SNV will also draw on its value chain analyses of key labor markets, to train and place youth aged 16 to 17 in trade jobs and entrepreneurship in coffee, tea, tourism, and other trend sectors. Winrock will focus on strengthening existing or nascent institutions and policies on child labor that can have a profound impact on withdrawal, prevention, and remediation. We will help finalize the National Action Plan on Child Labor and assist related ministries such as Gender and Education to mainstream child labor in their portfolios. We will also provide technical and material assistance to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Child Labor to ensure ministries are actively implementing and monitoring policies on child labor and responding to the data generated by REACH.