ABC Teaching Human Rights: Practical Activities for Primary and Secondary Schools

Teaching Human Rights booklet coverABC: Teaching Human Rights aims to serve as a user -friendly tool for human rights education and a multi-coloured umbrella covering a number of basic human rights areas. It offers practical advice to teachers and other educators who want to foster human rights awareness and action among primary and secondary school children, including suggestions for developing learning activities. It is not meant to place an extra burden on an already overloaded curriculum but to assist in infusing human rights issues into subjects already taught in schools.

There has been much research into how children and young people develop judgements as they grow . Not every class member may be able to grasp fully every human rights principle: pressing students to understand right from the beginning may preempt the honest expression of what they think or feel and may even halt further progress. This booklet assumes that all human beings benefit from the chance to explore rights issues, and that by the age of ten years or so, students given such a chance have a capacity for lively and profound reflection far beyond that usually expected. The suggested activities require few extra materials. Instead they call on the richest resource all teachers have to work with – their students and their experiences in everyday life.

Chapter One lays out principal human rights concepts and the fundamentals of human rights education. It reviews basic content and methodologies and elaborates on participatory techniques.

Chapter Two is intended for primary school teachers, offering suggestions for nurturing younger children’ s sense of their own worth and that of others through materials that evoke the human rights principles of human dignity and equality.

Chapter Three contains activities for upper primary and secondary school students that are of a more sophisticated nature and deal with current issues.

The activities in Chapter Two and Chapter Three are intended to give students a more profound awareness and understanding of human rights issues around the world and in their own classroom and community. They aim at stimulating independent thinking and research and building skills for active citizenship in a democracy. It is also important for students to enjoy the activities. It can be better to abandon or interrupt an activity if students put up too much resistance.

Each activity is followed by a reference to articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child , two United Nations instruments that are introduced in Chapter One and reproduced respectively in Annex 1 and Annex 2. The references aim at highlighting the provisions that served as a source of inspiration for each activity; however , the activities may not necessarily reflect the full scope and extent of the rights contained in the above-mentioned instruments, as recognized by international law . Annex 3 contains a brief introduction to the terminology used in this body of law .

ABC: Teaching Human Rights is one of the many resources available worldwide for furthering human rights education with schoolchildren. It can be a starting point for further research and study on the subject with a view to developing culturally appropriate materials at all teaching levels, and can be used in conjunction with or supplemented by other materials developed by local actors (governmental agencies, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and other civil society entities), to which teachers and users in general may also turn for assistance and support.

A selection of other classroom resources produced at the international and regional levels is included in Annex 5 ; other materials, including various documents mentioned in the text, can also be obtained from, inter-alia, the organizations mentioned in Annex 4 and their local offices.

For additional educational resources on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights see here.