Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2005) of Rwanda defines youth as between 14-35 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 21
  • 0
  • --
  • Female
  • 21
  • 0
  • --

  • No minimum age for opposite sex marriage with parental consent. No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Homosexual acts legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Children 10-14 may be held in custody during investigation. Between 14-18, lesser penalties apply. Source:  UN Child Rights Periodic Report

Majority Age


Voting Age


Compulsory voting.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 78.47% Male (15-24) %
  • 82.19% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 13.30% Male (13-15) %
  • 9.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The national youth policy of Rwanda was adopted in 2005. There are attempts to review and revise it.

The overall objective of the national youth policy (2005) is to promote the “economic, social, cultural, intellectual and moral welfare” of youth.

It focuses on: Education; Unity, reconciliation & social transformation; Poverty & unemployment; Environment; Health & Youth Protection; Culture, Sports & Leisure; Gender; Cooperation; Youth mobilisation & training.

The national youth policy (2005) is part of the Vision 2020 strategy, which incorporated the Millennium Development Goals.

According to a press release on 4 October 2012, the youth policy is currently under review. No further information could be found online.

As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Rwanda is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth & ICT is responsible for youth affairs and “develops, coordinates, monitors, evaluates and supports implementation of policies and strategies that promote youth development aimed at economic and social transformation and a productive and patriotic generation.”   The national youth policy (2005) describes the ministry as the “trustee for the implementation of the national youth policy.” The official Facebook page of the ministry features some of its programmes, such as an ICT literacy & awareness campaign.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Youth Council of Rwanda (RNYC) is linked to the Ministry of Youth & ICT with the head of the Executive Secretariat appointed by the Prime Minister. An annual General Assembly is comprised of national and district representatives, as well as representatives of the two National Youth Forums for secondary schools and higher education. The RNYC focuses on youth empowerment projects, youth services, patriotism, youth advocacy and international representation. The RNYC is a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
RWF 1.6 billion
USD 2.4 million
According to the 2013-14 approved budget, the Ministry of Youth & ICT was allocated RWF 2.7 billion (USD 4.0 million). Of this, “Youth empowerment & Productivity”, which includes specific budget lines for Youth Policy, was allocated RWF 1.36 billion (USD 2.0 million). “Youth economic empowerment and social welfare” was allocated RWF 240 million (USD 365,213). According to the World Bank, Rwanda spent 24.75% of its government expenditure and 4.19% of its GDP on education provision in 2012.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

The BBC News provides a summary of the Rwandan genocide which began in 1994:
Rwanda experienced Africa's worst genocide in modern times, and the country's recovery was marred by its intervention in the conflict in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The country has been beset by ethnic tension associated with the traditionally unequal relationship between the dominant Tutsi minority and the majority Hutus.
Although after 1959 the ethnic relationship was reversed, when civil war prompted around 200,000 Tutsis to flee to Burundi, lingering resentment led to periodic massacres of Tutsis.
The most notorious of these began in April 1994. The shooting down of the plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart near Kigali triggered what appeared to be a coordinated attempt by some Hutu leaders to eliminate the Tutsi population.
In response, the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) launched a military campaign to control the country. It achieved this by July, by which time at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus had been brutally massacred.
Some two million Hutus fled to Zaire, now the DR Congo. They included some of those responsible for the massacres, and some joined Zairean forces to attack local Tutsis. Rwanda responded by invading refugee camps dominated by Hutu militiamen.
The national youth policy (2005) provides a situation analysis for youth in Rwanda:

Statistics from the general census revealed that the Rwandan population is mainly young. Persons who are below 25 years old represent 67 % of the population. Another fact, which illustrates that the Rwandan population is young, is the low percentage of those persons who are above 65 years old. They represent 3 %.
Estimates indicate that households that live below the poverty line represent 65.7 % in rural areas as opposed to 14.3 % in urban areas. Poverty strikes also hard in rural areas where 45 % cannot meet their food needs.
Since the late 90’s, Rwanda repeatedly witnessed socio-political conflicts, some claiming more lives than others. All those atrocities culminated into the 1994 genocide. During this period, the youth were exploited and manipulated by politicians to carry out destruction.
Such exploitation was out of control and often dramatic, which led the Rwandan youth to actively get involved in massacres and the 1994 genocide.

80 % in rural youth and 2/3 in urban youth suffered from malaria. According to available statistics 25 % of adolescents are sexually active below the age of 18. A health and demographic survey conducted in 2000 revealed that 7 % of adolescents that are between 15 and 19 years are pregnant or have already delivered.
The August 2002 general census of the population provides alarming percentages of the youth aged below 26 who have no parents to look after them.
  1. 64.67% lost their mothers and fathers;
  2. 22.80% lost their fathers;
  3. 4.84% lost their mothers;
  4. 6% did not respond to the question;
  5. 0.15% do not know;
  6. 3.55% provided unspecified answers.
Almost all of those young people either witnessed or experienced violence in their direct environment. For all those orphans, we need to recognise that their socio-economic environment is characterized by poverty and deprivation.