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Teaching When Schools Donít
an article by Megan McDonald

A group of students at the University of Connecticut committed to human rights decided to put their knowledge into practice with lesson plans aimed at high school students. This initiative is being facilitated through the UNESCO Student Ambassador for Human Rights program, a group of students who have come together with a common goal: to promote universal human rights.

Each student took an article from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and developed an interesting lesson about it. These lessons included interaction to show students what it was like to be ostracized and ignored (to symbolize the confusion many people face when arriving at Immigration and Naturalization Services), the plight of children soldiers with a video from the United Nationsí Office of Children and Armed Conflict and a workbook outlining how students can petition chocolate companies to stop using child labor. All of these exercises taught a specific article from the Declaration and related the article to the everyday lives of the high school students.

The Student Ambassadors got the idea to teach human rights to high school students from their own high school experience with human rights, or, more appropriately, their lack thereof. Many of the Ambassadors acknowledged the fact that they had not heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights until college and believed that this should be remedied. They hope that school board members will see their efforts and realize that human rights education is important and should be taught in primary and secondary schools.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


How do we promote a human rights, peace based education?,

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Latest reader comment:

Question: what is the relation between peace and education?
http://cpnn-world.org/new/?p=4780

We teach the science of war on an even and equal basis with the 3Rs and we maintain it with more resources than any other school. Further, we have done this consistently for a couple of thousand years, long before education was institutionalized for all children. And we have never questioned the wisdom of teaching millions of civilians how to kill while never giving the same credence, or any for that matter, to the science of peace, the study of anti-war, of reconciliation. With this inured mindset leaders choose to fund boot camps and officer training colleges and by omission deprive youth of the better choice.

If we can teach war and violence with such commitment to suit the purposes of generals and the arms trade, where are the rest of us who have a greater need for peace and conciliation than anyone anywhere has for the killing fields? Why have civilians not demanded peace education long ago and why don't we have it now?


This report was posted on December 4, 2004.