By Eddie Nsabimana
Children discuss on some issues that they wish to be handled in the coming budget 2021-22 financial year . / Dan Nsengiyumva
For years, children participation in the national budget planning process was rare, denying them the opportunity to have a say on how the “national cake” is distributed.
However, four years ago the Coalition Umwana ku Isonga started to coordinate forums for children’s representatives—giving them a platform to have their say on issues the government should prioritise in the national budget.
The coalition aims to ensure that children’s rights are respected in all aspects of life.
In partnership with government and civil society, every year the coalition brings children’s representatives together for a pre-budget hearing meeting, collect their ideas about what they wish should be considered in the national budget and share them to parliament and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
Children pose for a group photo
Jean Leonard Sekanyange, the Chairperson of Coalition Umwana ku Isonga, explains that such forums give a voice to children because they have the right to participate, like other citizens, in budget planning.
He said the ideas shared are valuable and have often received a nod from policymakers.
“We are happy that the majority of children’s ideas were included in the national budget,” he said, adding that this was designed to ensure their welfare is guaranteed.
“This should go beyond giving children the right to play their part in the government’s budget planning, it should also apply in their families.”
Even parents, he said, should consult their children.
Some of children who represent others during the workshop
During one of the pre-budget hearing meetings held on Friday, October 30, the children proposed a number of issues for the government to include in the budget for the 2021/22 financial year.
For instance, they proposed that the government reviews the cost of sanitary pads because the price is still high.
“We want sanitary pads to be more affordable,” said Jean Baptiste Shyaka, the Children Representative in Gasabo District.
Other issues discussed include increasing the number of sports and leisure facilities, supporting the development of children’s talents at early age, increasing the availability of scholastic materials in schools, food security, increasing time and training on reproductive health to reducing teen pregnancies as well as recruitment of competent teachers.
Children hailed the government for its commitment to value their ideas in the budget planning process.
Leonard Sekanyange, the Coalition Chairperson speaks to the children on their right to participate like other citizens
“I believe we are giving ideas like any other citizen. It is exciting to grow up in a society where children’s rights are respected. It is also important for us as future leaders,” said Joy Samantha Adasa, the Children Representative in Bumbogo Sector, Gasabo District.
Thomas Simpenzwe, the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Office at Gasabo District said that the district will examine the ideas proposed by the children and include some of them in the budget.
“These annual forums have been so important because they help the government to set priorities in its budget. Their ideas are really playing a key role in the budget planning for every financial year,” he said.
Source New Times.