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Young people having a say... (Mar 2010)

Last Updated (Monday, 31 May 2010 10:27)

Everyone has the right to have a say on matters affecting them. There are significant opportunities for young people to
•    Give input to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the realisation of their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Visit Worth going there to see some compelling video messages from young people from around the country.
•    Give views to government decision-makers, network with other young people, find out about youth workshops, conferences, youth advisory groups and scholarships for young people here.
•    Participate in the New Zealand Youth Parliament.

Outstanding Primary Schools (Mar 2010)

Last Updated (Monday, 31 May 2010 10:23)

An interesting report from Ofsted (England’s ERO-equivalent), Twenty outstanding primary schools - Excelling against the odds, examines the characteristics of schools that have been turned around and now achieve excellence in value-adding education.

The schools
•    Provide affection, stability and a purposeful and structured experience.
•    Build – and often rebuild – children’s self-belief.
•    Teach children the things they really need to know and show them how to learn for themselves and with others.
•    Give children opportunities, responsibility and trust in an environment which is both stimulating and humanising.
•    Listen to their pupils, value their views and reflect and act on what they say.
•    Build bridges with parents, families and communities, working in partnership with other professionals.
•    Ensure their pupils progress as fast as possible and achieve as much as possible (outperforming both similar schools and many with fewer challenges).

Basically, they ‘put the child at the centre of everything they do, and high aspirations, expectations and achievement underpin the schools’ work.’

These are the characteristics of human rights-based education, including
•    A common sense of purpose based on the child’s right to an education that helps meet individual potential
•    A commitment to human dignity, and rights to development, expression, and safety
•    Respect for the rights and responsibilities of parents and whānau

‘What difference does it make to be explicit about ‘human rights’? (Mar 2010)

Last Updated (Monday, 31 May 2010 10:18)

One of the common responses to learning about the Human Rights in Education initiative – from policy makers to education practitioners – is ‘We’re doing it all already’. And of course, New Zealand schools exist to fulfil human rights and there are many programmes that are designed to fulfil certain rights, ranging from education in general to student safety. The National Education Guidelines are admirably reflective of human rights aims.

But can schools be said to meet the New Zealand Curriculum requirement that ‘respect for human rights’ be ‘encouraged, modelled and explored’ – and can they be said to be fulfilling New Zealand’s international treaty obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in education – if teachers and young people are not taught what these human rights actually are?

•    ‘Awareness of one’s rights is...a key element to achieving full enjoyment and protection of human rights’, said a UK government representative in support of the Draft Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training last week in the UN Human Rights Council.
•    Being explicit about what is to be learned is one of the key findings of a range of the Ministry’s Best Evidence Synthesis reports into effective pedagogy.

People cannot claim their rights and defend others’ rights if they do not know them. ‘Human rights’ is not a general concept like ‘social justice’. ‘Human rights’ is a coherent international normative framework of huge significance in a globalising world, and New Zealand has a clear obligation to ensure young New Zealanders learn about it. Under article 42 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for example, NZ must ensure ‘by appropriate and active means’ that ‘the principles and provisions of the Convention  [are] widely known [by] adults and children alike’.

There is a wider reason to be explicit about human rights in the school setting as Human Rights in Education partners are discovering. Being clear about the human rights mission of the school, helps create a common sense of purpose in the school community, and coherence (a New Zealand Curriculum principle) amidst the myriad of otherwise fragmented programmes and processes of the school.

•    The school mission is realisation of every young person’s right to education
•    Learning rights and responsibilities is central to effective citizenship – one of the key aims of education. The human rights framework articulates the rights and responsibilities of citizens in and beyond the school.
•    The human rights framework can link powerfully formal classroom learning content across the curriculum, and with behaviour agreements, restorative practices, peer mediation programmes – and indeed almost everything that happens in the school.
•    Learning the cross-culturally negotiated and internationally-agreed human rights framework is a critical part of equipping young people to be effective global citizens.

‘A framework on which to base many school practices’
‘It ties everything together’
‘An umbrella that fits over everything that is in our school’
‘Makes our rules seem more meaningful to our students and staff’
‘Makes me think critically about some of the things I do in my classroom, especially some of the aspects of my behaviour management’
‘A real platform and real issues linking back to real life learning’
‘It has become a common framework for how we look at things.’
‘Such a key part of core business’

From a general education policy point of view, explicitly basing policy on the human rights framework would
•    reinforce its legitimacy because of the strong links to our national history, shared values and global standards;
•    encourage schools to become more aware of human rights and responsibilities, explore them, and by basing their work on human rights principles, reinforce good practice in teaching, ‘behaviour management’ and discipline, and human resource management –  assisting in meeting our accountabilities under international treaty arrangements and helping to support our claim to good international citizenship.


Starting the school year

Last Updated (Monday, 03 December 2012 14:11)

Human rights-based education has impact because it meets key criteria for effective school organisation and pedagogy:

Clear common purpose is communicated to all members of the school community: schools exist to realise the right of every young person to education, which is a key means of realising human rights in general (eg rights to work, adequate standard of living, participation and contribution as citizens...)

Educationally powerful connections are created by consistently referencing the formal and informal curriculum to the human rights of young people and others.

An orderly and supportive environment is created by building a culture of respect based on rights and responsibilities - including the right of every young person to learn, and the responsibility of teachers to facilitate such learning effectively - and reinforcing that culture through repeated referencing to human rights and responsibilities in varying contexts.

At the beginning of the school year, an indispensable tool for human rights messaging on the rights of all (including the right to education) is the development of classroom/school rights and responsibilities agreements.

See Rights and Responsibilities Agreements: joining the dots and Developing a Class Agreement.

Such human rights learning (or relearning) can be powerfully reinforced by classroom and school-wide reference to external anniversaries such as Waitangi Day (6 February, New Zealand's first rights document), international Women's Day (8 March), and Anzac Day (25 April, marking for many the struggle for human dignity and freedom).

*Share your stories of starting the year in the Human Rights in Education Forum. (You'll need to log-in or register on the website to contribute)


Using the human rights framework as a critical/ethical tool (Feb 2010)

Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 November 1999 12:00)

hr_lensWhile specific teaching and learning inquiries about human rights are important, the key to human rights-based education is applying a human rights and responsibilities lens consistently across the formal and informal curriculum.

Teachers can contribute to powerful human rights learning by simply including the questions

‘Are there any human rights implications here?',

‘Whose rights?',

‘Which rights?'

in discussions or inquiry templates, and ensuring that there is ready access to lists of human rights (eg through posters, handouts - see attached or UNCRoC - one page summary, UDHR (one page summary).


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