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Human Rights Day 10 December & the Climate Change Summit (Dec 2009)

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

10 December each year is International Human Rights Day - the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. A school or classroom Human Rights Day celebration is a good way to round off the year.

copenhagenAs we celebrate it this year representatives of 192 countries are gathering in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference - an important opportunity for teachers and schools to discuss the relationship between ecological sustainability and human rights, and to observe closely how international relations work.

The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires states parties (those states that have ratified the treaty, and therefore have agreed to be bound by its provisions in international law) to ensure that education is directed, amongst other things, to ‘development of respect for the natural environment' (article 29(e)). This was in recognition that the realisation of the human rights to health, adequate standard of living etc for present and future generations was dependent on the environment.

The Facilitation Team is keen to hear from Enviroschools who may be interested in exploring the relationship between education for sustainability and human rights-based education with us as part of developing a more coherent approach to ‘education for citizenship' - one of the principal purposes of universal education. Email Ced Simpson.

Meeting standards (Dec 2009)

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

2010 is the first year in which schools are required to implement a school curriculum based on the revised national curriculum, including meeting the requirement that

‘Each Board of Trustees, through the principal and staff...develop and implement a curriculum for students in Y1-13 in which the values as expressed in The New Zealand Curriculum are encouraged and modelled and are explored by students.'

-- and the expectation that ‘respect for...human rights' will ‘be evident in the school's  philosophy, structures, curriculum, classrooms and relationships'  (NZC p10)

This expectation is critical to New Zealand's compliance with international human rights standards (eg the preamble and article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, articles 29 and 42 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and as reflected in the UN World Programme for Human Rights Education).

The other standards preoccupying colleagues in primary schools, of course, relate to literacy and numeracy. There is no doubt that the development of literacy and numeracy are extremely important in meeting the human rights mission of the school -- to develop human potential and develop effective citizens able to exercise their human rights and respect, protect and fulfil others'. It's also pretty clear that the development of literacy and numeracy is enhanced when students see their relevance to things that matter to them.

In Hampshire, headteachers and county education officers have attributed improvements in standard test scores in recent years to the improved learning environment created as schools develop rights-respecting classrooms, and increasing language skills as students get more experience in exercising their freedom of expression and right to have a say in matters affecting them through more democratic classrooms, greater participation in school decisionmaking, and engagement as active citizens in community issues.

Part of an Amnesty International UK series, Human Rights in the Curriculum: Mathematics outlines how maths learning can reflect human rights themes. A key HRiE | Mana Tika Tangata support partner, Global Focus Aotearoa (incorporating the Global Education Centre) has produced Global Disparities: a Teaching Resource Kit, which although designed principally to help meet geography standards, also provides interesting human rights-related statistics spreadsheets that can be used in the Maths & Stats learning area.


Students lead strengthening of human rights culture (Dec 2009)

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

Since a voluntary 1½ day workshop before the beginning of term 1, senior students at Motueka High School have

  • developed and led workshops with vertical form classes on human rights and the development of input for a school rights and responsibilities agreement, which was subsequently agreed with the principal and signed by all students, becoming the standard reference point for behaviour in the school community
  • worked with staff to prepare for a staff presentation focusing on encouraging staff to use human rights language in all their dealings with students and parents
  • created a Human Rights corner in the library as an ongoing focus for stories, posters and a box to allow students to discuss anonymously any concerns about breaches of human rights
  • driven changes to disciplinary paper work to incorporate human rights and responsibilities, and to detention systems to incorporate peer support for students so that they can draft a letter of apology to the person whose human rights they have affected
  • started work with the Head of Maths and a Drama teacher on a project to make a DVD highighting breaches of human rights within a school context, with vertical form classes to be invited to contribute a skit towards the DVD at the beginning of the year when the Charter or Code of Behaviour will be revisited.

The school is working to incorporate human rights and restorative justice into the school principles and values. Motueka High School began their participation in Human Rights in Education with a whole-staff workshop in December 2008.


Planning for the new year (Dec 2009)

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

How to begin the school year on a strong human rights and responsibilities theme:

  • Negotiate Rights and Responsibilities Agreements, cross-referenced to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (primary) or Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Draw out the human rights themes in Waitangi Day and Anzac Day

Wanting to chew over how to better meet the values requirement of the New Zealand Curriculum, or looking for something that can galvanise the whole school community around the new Curriculum in 2010?

* Contact Ced Simpson now!

HRiE presentations and workshops have consistently been given good reviews by participants (eg "This is the most inspirational educational presentation I've ever attended"), and the 2010 calendar is filling fast.


‘It should be posted in every classroom’ (Dec 2009)

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

Unesco's Director-General, Jaime Torres Bodet, said of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948: ‘Every paragraph is a call to action, every line a condemnation of apathy, every sentence a repudiation of some moment of our individual or national history; every word forces us to scrutinize more closely the situation in the world today.' A growing number of teachers are helping students recognise this global taonga by posting it up in the classroom where it acts as a ready reference point for class discussions. You can order a poster from New Internationalist or, like a teacher at Motueka High School, create your own for school use!


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