Introduction to Human Rights in Education


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An introduction to New Zealand's Human Rights in Education Initiative

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  • The right to education has been public policy in New Zealand for many decades.Image:
  • The right to education has been public policy in New Zealand for many decades.
  • Most people understand readily that school exist to help realise the right to education of young people.
  • [NZ Supreme Court building in Wellington. Photo: Ced Simpson]
  • Image: Matt Britt. Licensed under Creative CommonsAttribution 2.5 License
  • Image: Accessed on the 25 August 2009 at
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  • Image: Unofficialenglandrugby.
  • Image: Richard Sihamau.
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  • Microsoft office clip art 2007
  • As perhaps its most underquoted article, article 29 of the Universal Declaration recognises that with rights come responsibilities. In earlier drafts this article appeared at the beginning of the Declaration. It was eventually placed at the end so that there would be references to responsibility at both the beginning of the Declaration (article 1’s reference to treating each other in the spirit of brotherhood) and at the end. Image:
  • Based on results from PISA 2006
  • So, drawing on successful experience elsewhere, what’s involved in Human Rights in Education?
  • Auckland Girls’ Grammar School made the changes in bold italics to their school charter for 2009, giving coherence to their mission.
  • So, drawing on successful experience elsewhere, what’s involved in Human Rights in Education?
  • A half-day whole-staff workshop introduces human rights-based education and the Human Rights in Education initiative to the adults who bear human rights responsibilities in the learning community.
  • Year10 students at Queen Margaret College (Wellington, decile 10) spend a week learning about human rights (2009)
  • Year 12 and 13 students at Motueka High School workshop human rights, developing a workshop for vertical form classes to provide input to a school Rights and Responsibilities Agreement.
  • Classroom Rights & Responsibilities Agreement, Years 2/3 (ages 6-7) Lower Moutere Primary School Feb 2009An ideal way to develop understanding of human rights, and a human rights culture in the school, is through the negotiation of Rights and Responsibilities Agreements in each class at the beginning of the school year. Rights and Responsibilities Agreements (or ‘contracts’ or ‘treaties’) are a proven ‘behaviour management tool’ used in many New Zealand classrooms and schools. When explicitly linked to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (recommended for primary) or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (secondary) as part of a structured learning process, they have a much greater impact. As one child said in Hampshire, ‘Our classroom charter is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is better than rules because they are for all the time.’ It can not only establish the basis for harmonious classrooms and schools, the process can also act as a powerful lesson in how human rights declarations and treaties are negotiated and maintained (linking for example to a range of Social Studies achievement objectives).  Learning about specific ‘human rights’ at the beginning of the school year can help set the scene for other learning: Eg Everyone has the rights to rest and play, and the highest attainable standard of health (physical education) Everyone has the right to enjoy the arts Everyone has the right to share in share in scientific advancement and its benefits. Everyone has duties to the community. Class collaboration on the production of school posters in the context of English, Art, and Social Studies lessons can be a great way to encourage interaction in new classes and result in tools that reinforce the human rights and responsibilities message throughout the school.See Rights and Responsibilities Agreements: joining the dots and Developing a Class Agreement.
  • Year 5 class at Dawson primary school, Otara (decile 1) explaining rights and responsibilities to a school assembly at the beginning of the year.
  • All students were invited to sign the resulting school agreement.
  • So, drawing on successful experience elsewhere, what’s involved in Human Rights in Education?
  • Human Rights in Education involves applying a ‘human rights and responsibilities lens’ to every aspect of school life.
  • In terms of human rights learning, it involves being conscious that young people learn about human dignity, rights and responsibilities from everything they experience in the school setting, and ensuring that the total curriculum (formal and informal or hidden) supports human rights learning.
  • The formal curriculum offers many opportunities for human rights learning and reinforcement, often in unexpected places.
  • A 30-word Universal Declaration of Human Rights from a class analysis resulting in one word chosen to represent the key rights idea in each of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration.
  • Two schools that became Human Rights in Education partners in 2009 illustrate some of the directions that human rights-based education can take.After a half-day staff workshop launched Nelson Central School as a partner in Human Rights in Education, teachers initiated whole-school learning about human rights and responsibilities through a series of ‘social inquiries’ in classes.
  • A Year 1 class (5 yos) examined the school from the perspective of the human rights of children with disabilities, resulting in a series of recommendations to the Principal on changes that should be made.
  • Years 3/4 classes (ages 7-9) compared the realisation of human rights for children at their school with the situation of children elsewhere.
  • Some of the inquiry questions posed by students.
  • They found a Save the Children website helping them to get to know a community of children in Kroo Bay, a slum area of Freetown in Sierra Leone. The children researched how basic children’s rights were realised (or not) in Kroo Bay and ultimately made movies to highlight the differences. (see, for example, Their next topic was about ‘ways we express ourselves’, with the final task being to perform or present an item which expresses an idea or opinion.’ The children converted their knowledge into speeches which were then presented to members of the congregation from the church next door in an effort to persuade them to support Save the Children Fund. When the Samoan Tsunami led the congregation to reprioritise its fundraising efforts, the children addressed the student council which agreed to join the effort. Senior classes (Years 5/6, ages 9-11) had examined the purposes and functions of the student council based on the key idea that “As a member of a community we all have the right to be involved in the decision making process”. The culmination of the process saw each class create a proposal for how our student council should be structured and elected so that it better represented all children at NCS. The classes held an expo where all the children at NCS were able to hear the different presentations and proposals and then had the opportunity to vote (by secret ballot) on which proposal should to be implemented. The result was a restructured student council with stronger ‘ambassador’ links with junior classes.
  • At Motueka High, senior students applying a human rights lens decided to instigate a review of the school’s disciplinary processes, resulting in a stronger restorative approach.
  • Introduction to Human Rights in Education

    1. 1. Educating our young people<br />A matter of human rights<br />
    2. 2. ‘Human rights’ are the cross-culturally negotiated and internationally agreed entitlements every person has because they are human.<br />
    3. 3. New Zealand schooling is based on the right to education<br />
    4. 4. ‘‘[T]he best way of giving a man a fair start in this life is by educating him. He is then more likely to get good food and clothing than if he started dependent on his natural wit, without any education whatever.’<br />Captain William Russell, MP debating the 1877 Education Bill <br />4<br />
    5. 5. ‘Every person, whatever his level of academic ability, whether he be rich or poor, whether he live in town or country, has a right as a citizen to a free education of the kind for which he is best fitted and to the fullest extent of his powers.’<br />Annual Report of the Department of Education 1939 <br />5<br />
    6. 6. ‘[E]very entitled education at any state school during the period beginning on the person's 5th birthday and ending on the 1st day of January after the person's 19th birthday.’<br />New Zealand Education Act 1989<br />6<br />
    7. 7. On 10 December 1948 New Zealand voted in favour of ‘a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations’<br />
    8. 8. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was hailed as a global Magna Carta<br />
    9. 9. ...and included the following rights<br />
    10. 10. Education<br />(Article 26)<br />
    11. 11. Life, liberty and security of person<br />(Article 3)<br />11<br />
    12. 12. An effective remedy for acts violating rights.<br />Freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention & exile.<br />A fair hearing, and the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty<br />(Articles 8, 9, 10, 11)<br />
    13. 13. Freedom from arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence, <br />and attacks on honour and reputation<br />(Article 12)<br />
    14. 14. Freedom of expression<br />(Article 19)<br />
    15. 15. Freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas <br />(Article 19)<br />
    16. 16. Right to take part in government<br />(Article 21)<br />
    17. 17. Right to work, under fair conditions<br />(Article 23)<br />
    18. 18. Rest and leisure<br />(Article 24)<br />
    19. 19. Right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community and to enjoy the arts<br />(Article 27)<br />
    20. 20. To share in scientific advancement and its benefits<br />(Article 27)<br />
    21. 21. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which human rights can be fully realised<br />(Article 28)<br />
    22. 22. The Universal Declaration also proclaimed that <br />‘Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.’<br />(Article 29)<br />
    23. 23. The UN General Assembly urged that<br />‘every individual and every organ of society,<br />keeping this Declaration constantly in mind,<br />shall strive by teaching and education <br />to promote respect for these rights’<br />
    24. 24. Effective citizenship is one of the key aims of education.<br />Citizenship is about rights and responsibilities.<br />Yet 21% of New Zealanders have not heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights<br />− the ‘common standard’ for global citizenship campaigned for by New Zealand, adopted in 1948, and now part of international customary law.<br />
    25. 25. The issues in education are about human rights<br />
    26. 26. One in five leave school without qualifications<br />HEATHER WATKINS<br />One in five New Zealand children leave school without formal NCEA qualifications, a Ministry of Education report has revealed. <br /> Although the country’s education system performs well in average terms, compared with other OECD countries, it is failing a significant number of young people, especially Māori and Pacific Islanders.<br /> “New Zealand cannot afford such levels of under-achievement in a globalised economy,” the Minister said, releasing the report yesterday.<br /> “Addressing this is one of the Govern-ment’s greatest challenges.” <br /> Teacher unions and the School Trustees Association agree.<br />
    27. 27. 27<br />EQUITY<br />PERFORMANCE<br />Finland<br />NewZealand<br />Netherlands<br />UK<br />USA<br />Chile<br />Colombia<br />
    28. 28. NZ schools lead world in bullying <br />The Press 14/12/2008<br />28<br />Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 3: Everyone has the right to personal security <br />
    29. 29. Teachers to get help to curb pupil violence <br />By JOHN HARTEVELT - The Press 18 August 2009 <br />The Government plans to curb schoolyard misbehaviour as new figures reveal a growing number of attacks on teachers and pupils. <br />Ministry of Education figures released yesterday show expulsions as a result of physical assaults on other pupils rose from 9.4 per cent of all expulsions in 2000 to 25.3 per cent last year.<br />Expulsions for assaults on staff have increased from 3.1 per cent of the total in 2000 to 6.5 per cent last year.<br />Last year, 15,930 pupils were stood down a total of 20,279 times. The rate of stand-downs 28.5 pupils per 1,000 was lower than in 2007 but equal or higher than in five of the previous eight years.<br />Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 3: Everyone has the right to personal security <br />
    30. 30. Students' Nazi Facebookphotos 'ignorant' <br />Monday Oct 19, 2009A group of Auckland Grammar School students are facing disciplinary action after photos of them bowing down in front of Nazi regalia appeared on Facebook.<br /> The images showed the boys, in school uniform, kissing a swastika, making a Nazi salute, and kneeling in homage before a Nazi flag at an Auckland War Memorial Museum exhibition, Radio New Zealand reported.<br />
    31. 31. Over 60 years later the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being rediscovered by New Zealand educators<br />
    32. 32. They are using human rights as a framework to <br />focustheir professional efforts<br />to develop a culture of respect for self, others and learning, and of responsibilityin and beyond the school<br />
    33. 33. To enable young people to develop their human potential and be effective citizensof their communities<br />The human rights aim of education <br />Developing learning communities that know, promote and live human rights and responsibilities<br />The HRiE contribution<br />Recognise human rights mission <br />The steps<br />33<br />
    34. 34. ‘As a community we acknowledge the right of our young people to an education that respects and helps realise their human rights and those of others.<br /> <br />‘Committed to the right to education for all, Auckland Girls’ Grammar School is the lead school for a Teen Parenting Unit for young mothers from the greater Auckland area.... <br /> <br />‘Respect – All members of the Auckland Girls’ Grammar School Community will honour the unique qualities that every student and staff member brings to the school. They will show respect at all times for themselves, others, human rights, and the environment.<br /> <br />‘Empathy – All members of the Auckland Girls’ Grammar School Community will have an understanding of the feelings of others based on an understanding of their inherent dignity and rights<br /> <br /> <br />‘Contributing to these strategic directions, our school will develop as a community that knows, promotes and lives human rights and responsibilities.’<br />34<br />
    35. 35. Freyberg High School acknowledges the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.<br />Everyone has the right to education (Article 26) and inherent in this right is the responsibility to allow others to learn. <br />You have the right to be treated with dignity, and the responsibility to treat all others with dignity, whatever their race, background or abilities.<br />35<br />
    36. 36. The  Nelson Central Bi-lingual Unit exists in recognition of: <br />the right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children(Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 26)<br />the rights of the child to preserve his or her identity, to an education that develops respect for his or her own cultural identity, language and values, and to practise his or her own culture(Convention on the Rights of the Child articles 8, 29, 30)<br />the right of indigenous peoples to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs, and to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language(UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, articles 11 & 14)<br />36<br />
    37. 37. To enable young people to develop their human potential and be effective citizensof their communities<br />The human rights aim of education <br />Developing learning communities that know, promote and live human rights and responsibilities<br />The HRiE contribution<br />Recognise human rights mission <br />Learn about human rights & responsibilities<br />The steps<br />37<br />
    38. 38. Developing a human rights-based learning community starts with a whole-staff workshop<br />Lower Moutere School<br />
    39. 39. 39<br />Students explore human rights from the beginning of the school year <br />
    40. 40. 40<br />
    41. 41. 41<br />
    42. 42. 42<br />Students explore rights and responsibilities by negotiating classroom agreements based on human rights<br />
    43. 43. 43<br />Students play a critical role developing a culture of rights, respect and responsibility in their school<br />
    44. 44. 44<br />
    45. 45. To enable young people to develop their human potential and be effective citizensof their communities<br />The human rights aim of education <br />Developing learning communities that know, promote and live human rights and responsibilities<br />The HRiE contribution<br />Recognise human rights mission <br />Learn about human rights & responsibilities<br />Apply a rights & responsibilities lens consistently<br />The steps<br />45<br />
    46. 46. The lens is applied to every aspect of school life<br />School charter & policies<br />School decisionmaking<br />Teaching styles, strategies & actions<br />Teaching & learning materialAssessment<br />Co-curricular activitiesPastoral programme<br />School culture/hidden curriculum<br />Student participation & input<br />Whānau participation & input<br />46<br />
    47. 47. 47<br />The whole package of learning experiences offered by the school<br />
    48. 48. 48<br />Young people learn about human rights and responsibilities through literature.<br />
    49. 49. 49<br />Studying key texts<br />eg creating a 30-word Universal Declaration of Human Rights...<br />
    50. 50. 50<br />Giving human rights artistic expression<br />
    51. 51. Exploring the human rights education resources that can be found on the web in almost every language.<br />51<br />
    52. 52. Exploring the human rights dimension of every learning area<br />Everyone has the rights to health, rest & leisure<br />‘Recognise instances of discrimination and act responsibly to support their own rights and feelings and those of other people’ <br />(level 4 achievement objective) <br />52<br />
    53. 53. 53<br />Examining global inequities through statistical analysis<br />
    54. 54. Everyone has the right share in scientific advancement and its benefits.<br />‘Students explore…so that they can participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role.’<br />54<br />Examining how science and technology may impact on enjoyment of human rights<br />‘Students...learn to consider ethics, legal requirements, protocols, codes of practice, and the needs of and potential impacts on stakeholders and the environment.’<br />
    55. 55. Two schools in the Nelson/Tasman region illustrate where a human rights approach can lead. <br />55<br />
    56. 56. 56<br />Nelson Central School (Yrs 0-6) began applying a rights & responsibilities lens to classroom learning inquiries <br />
    57. 57. 57<br />Five year olds looked at their school from the perspective of students with disabilities, and made recommendations to the Principal on change.<br />
    58. 58. 58<br />7-9 year olds compared ‘how children’s rights are observed at Nelson Central School with those at another school in a different time or place’<br />(July 2009)<br />
    59. 59. 59<br />On the internet they found a community in Sierra Leone<br />
    60. 60. ?<br />Their inquiry questions included:<br />What type of medicine to people have in Kroo Bay and is there enough medicine for everybody? – Oscar<br />Where do the children in Kroo Bay get their water to drink and survive and is it clean water? – Quanah<br />How do people in Kroo Bay build their houses, what do they build their houses from and are they safe? – Krystal<br />Where do the people in Kroo Bay get their toys from and do all the children have toys? – Ellie<br />60<br />
    61. 61. 61<br />They made movies to highlight the differences<br />
    62. 62. 62<br />and approached a neighbouring church congregation and their student council to collaborate to raise funds for a development project.<br />
    63. 63. Year 5-6 classes (9-10 year olds) reviewed the purposes and functions of the student council in the light of young people’s right to have a say in matters affecting them. <br />Each class created a proposal for an improved democratic structure, and presented it at a school expo.<br />They then held a school referendum, resulting in a restructured student council with stronger ‘ambassador' links with junior classes. <br />63<br />
    64. 64. 64<br />After a 1½ day workshop at the beginning of the school year, senior students reviewed the school’s disciplinary processes, negotiating a school rights and responsibilities agreement based on input from each form class, and introducing a stronger restorative approach.<br />Letter of apology to people whose rights have been affected by your actions:<br />The letter could be addressed to your parents (if you’ve truanted or been out of bounds or been caught smoking as this affects your right to an education and to be safe), or to your teacher (if you have been disruptive, abusive or defiant as this affects their right to teach and the rights of other students to an education.) This letter must be carefully, sincerely and neatly written. To help you, there are seniors available and also the template below.<br />Your address <br />Today’s date<br />Dear<br />I am sorry for breaching the school’s Code of Behaviour in the following ways:(explain what you did that affected the rights of others and failed to meet responsibilities.)<br />I realise that my actions have affected the following people in the following ways: (explain how your actions affected other people including yourself.)<br />What I intend to do differently in future is: (explain what you think of your behaviour now and what you would think if a person behaved that way to you. Explain how sorry you are for what you did and what you will do in future if you find yourself in the same circumstances.)<br />Yours sincerely, (sign off with your name)<br />
    65. 65. In the English county of Hampshire, a similar approach has been credited with<br />Greater respect for others, less disruption and bullying <br />Higher student participation, engagement and achievement in education<br />Development of active and responsible citizenship behaviour in and beyond the school<br />65<br />
    66. 66. The enthusiasm is growing...<br />‘This is the most inspirational educational presentation I’ve ever attended’ (principal)<br />‘It makes sense because it ties everything together; we’re looking for cohesion’ (principal)<br />‘A real platform and real issues linking back to real life learning’ (principal)<br />‘A session that should be compulsory for all’ (board chair)<br />‘Has given me a new focus for the work I do in schools’ (school advisor)<br />‘This is what schools are about ...or need to be’ (school trustee)<br />66<br />
    67. 67. If you believe that every young New Zealander has the right to an education that respects and helps realise human rights... <br />
    68. 68. If you believe that we should honour our human rights commitment in education...<br />Join us <br />
    69. 69.<br />Better education<br />Stronger citizenship<br />
    70. 70.<br /><br />