There are two important reasons why we have made the decision to become a partner in the Human Rights in Education initiative. One is the fact that our New Zealand Curriculum places importance on students valuing diversity, equity, social justice, the common good, care for the environment, and human rights specifically. Secondly, the initiative aligns well with our Catholic Special Character and provides our children with a secular language that they can share with the wider community.
Jane Hahn, principal Christ the King Catholic School (Owairaka, Auckland)
(Jane and colleagues will be presenting at a seminar at the Catholic Education Convention on 8 August: Looking at Human Rights through a Catholic Lens)
Effective citizens of the learning communityOne of the key aims of education, reflected in both international human rights standards and New Zealand education policy, is the development of effective citizens -- ie young people able to participate and contribute in their local, national and global communities.
International human rights law articulates this educational aim as being: preparation for effective participation/responsible life in a free society (ICESCR article 13, UNCRC article 29.1(d). The New Zealand Curriculum expects young people to learn “how people can participate as critical, active, informed, and responsible citizens” (p30).
The essence of being a “citizen” (as opposed to being, for example, a “subject”) is rights and responsibilities, and the only internationally-agreed code of the rights and responsibilities of global citizens is the human rights framework.
Early childhood education centres and schools are critical communities in which children/young people learn what it is to be a citizen. But what sort of citizenship are they learning in our learning communities?
Do our young citizens learn their rights and responsibilities?
Do our learning communities model these rights and responsibilities to contribute to such learning?
The New Zealand Curriculum asserts that “respect for human rights”, and related values, should be “evident in the school’s philosophy, structures, curriculum, classrooms, and relationships” (p10).
The right to be heard
All human beings have the right to freedom of expression (UDHR article 19), and the right to take part in the government of their country (article 21). Do we give young people sufficient opportunities to exercise these rights? To what extent to we respect and fulfil the right of every child to have a say in matters that affect them (UNCRC article 12)? What are our young people learning about democracy from the practices in our learning communities?
“Student voice” is not a nice-to-have in our early childhool education centres and schools: it is the way we give young people essential opportunities to exercise their human rights and responsibilities, and to develop as effective citizens.
Roger Hart's essay on the participation ladder
From the wonderful Council of Europe HRE resources: Participation
and the work of Adam Fletcher
Lansdown, G. (2001). Promoting children’s participation in democratic decision-making
. Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (download)
Teachers: please share your experiences
of facilitating “student voice”.
New business code on the human rights of children
Many primary school teachers examine child labour as an inquiry topic, and of course the human rights framework is an essential lens through which to examine the issues. 200 leaders from business, the UN, governments, academia and civil society gathered in London on 12 March to launch a new business code on the human rights of children:
This initiative is linked to the broader UN-backed initiative on human rights and business
-- potentially part of an interesting inquiry topic for level 5 Social Sciences (Understand how economic decisions impact on people, communities, and nations + how people define and seek human rights)
Education for Human Rights... Young People Talking
What do young people in school across the world think of human rights? In this sort film
(13 mins) students from a range of UNESCO Associated Schools (Human Rights in Education partners) talk about issues such as gender roles, discrimination, peace, and participation in school decisionmaking. Suitable as a discussion starter for learners in year 7 up. (Please share any of your experience using it!)
2013: a significant anniversary year for New Zealand
Next year it will be
35 years since New Zealand ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- that spelled out the human rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
20 years since New Zealand ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child -- that spelled out how these applied to people below the age of eighteen.
Ratification entails agreement to be bound in international law by treaty provisions.
How will we mark this anniversary year in education? We would welcome your thoughts
Katherine Covell and Brian Howe report on the contribution of human rights-based education in Hampshire, England, to resilience. Download report (44 pages)
As teachers and centres/schools are confronted with children with increasingly complex learning difficulties and disabilities (CLDD), The Schools Network
has developed tools
based on research findings across a range of countries, including New Zealand.
Empathy: College Students Don't Have as Much as They Used To
, US Study Finds
Interested in the evidence for the effectiveness of restorative practices, and good restorative practice? Take a look at the Ministry of Ed ucation’s forum
on the subject.
And with bullying in the news again recently... take a look at the Human Rights in Education page
, or a programme offered by Teachers Without Borders
in conjunction with Bullying.org
Renowned human rights educator Felisa Tibbitts and Peter G. Kirchschlaeger overviews some of the available research on human rights education
And finally: A sense of fairness: only in humans?
All of us working with children know that they have a very strong sense of “fairness” -- one of the underpinning values of human rights. Here, Frans de Waal gives a TED talk suggesting this is shared by other animals.
Human rights dates
There are numerous annual calendar dates that can be used as a peg for human rights learning in the school (incl. form classes and assemblies). Amongst those coming up:
12 June - World Day Against Child Labour (ILO) – children’s rights to protection from exploitation, slavery (http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Campaignandadvocacy/WDACL/lang--en/index.htm)
14 June - World Blood Donor Day (WHO) – right to health, duty to community (http://www.who.int/worldblooddonorday/en)
17 June - World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (UN) - right to an environment sustaining human rights (http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/june17/2005/menu.php)
20 June - World Refugee Day (UN) – right to asylum from persecution (http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/refugee/index.html)
23 June - United Nations Public Service Day (UN) – right of equal access to public service (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/note5797.doc.htm)
23 June - 1973 - World court condemned French nuclear tests - right to life, liberty & security
26 June - International Day Against Dug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (UN) – right to health (http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/drug/index.html)
26 June - UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (UN) (http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/international-day-support-torture-victims)
26 June - UN Charter Day – right to a social and international order in which human rights can be fully realised
First Saturday of July - International Day of Co-operatives, (UN) – rights to work, adequate standard of living, free association (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/social/intldays/IntlCoops/)
10 July - 1985 - Rainbow Warrior sunk in Auckland harbour – right to right to life, liberty & security
11 July - World Population Day, (UNFPA) – right to plan for a family (http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/world-population-day)
14 July - 1853 - NZ first general election began, though women were not eligible to stand or vote – right to democracy
18 July - Nelson Mandela International Day (UN). To be observed for the first time in 2010, to promote a culture of peace and dialogue based on human rights - right to a social and international order in which human rights can be fully realised (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/ga10885.doc.htm)
(Access the Human Rights Dates calendar