President Kagame was on Thursday the guest of honour at the Fifth Annual Children’s Summit held at the Kigali Serena. Launched in 2004, the summit is a platform for Rwandan children to express their views and influence policy on issues that affect them. This year’s summit had over 400 children representing all 30 Districts of Rwanda as well as representatives of children from East Africa and several Congolese refugee children living in camps in Rwanda.

Addressing participants at the summit, President Kagame said that the children and youth of Rwanda and East Africa are the leaders of today and tomorrow, and pointed out that Rwanda’s history and experiences have demonstrated the critical importance of investing in the education of the nation’s children, “… all children must be given the right and opportunity to participate in matters that affect them directly and that affect their country”

President Kagame encouraged the children to live up to Rwandan traditional values of respect for all, and to cooperate with parents and guardians while rejecting bad influence and behavior. He also impressed upon them the importance of articulating their views , engaging in healthy debate and learning from each other.

President Kagame also called for the prompt establishment of a proposed Children’s Commission for effective follow-up of issues concerning Rwanda’s children. He pointed out that the country looked to banishing all forms of abuse against children, including sexual violence, saying that all children deserved to be protected. He urged parents and guardians to find time to care for and guide those under their responsibility pointing out that this work was as important as other adult obligations.