UK: Rights groups unite to urge David Cameron to honour United Nations pledge in new curriculum
Posted: 08 February 2013
Amnesty International UK
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday 8 February 2013
UK: RIGHTS GROUPS UNITE TO URGE DAVID CAMERON TO HONOUR UNITED NATIONS PLEDGE IN NEW CURRICULUM
Amnesty International, UNICEF UK, British Institute for Human Rights, Children’s Rights Alliance for England, End Violence Against Women and English PEN call on UK Government to enshrine human rights education in new curriculum
‘The draft Citizenship curriculum presents a depressingly limited vision’ – Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK
Prominent human rights groups joined forces today to call on David Cameron’s coalition government to ensure human rights education takes pride of place in the re-shaped national curriculum.
To fail to do so – the organisations warned – would not only miss the high standards for human rights education established by international agreements, it would also be a backward step in the battle to improve behaviour, raise standards and tackle bullying in schools.
The groups include Amnesty International UK, UNICEF UK, British Institute for Human Rights, Children’s Rights Alliance for England, and English PEN.
The Government’s plans, which went out to consultation earlier this week, confirmed that Citizenship would remain part of the statutory curriculum – a decision welcomed by the organisations – but human rights hardly feature at all in the required subject content.
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:
“While we welcome the fact that the new curriculum says pupils should be taught about the ‘precious liberties enjoyed by citizens’ overall the draft Citizenship curriculum presents a depressingly limited vision. Children are growing up as global citizens in a globalised world. Young people are inspired by learning about the struggles for human rights across the world.
“After the horrors of World War Two the nations of the world said ‘never again’ and pledged a world with human rights for all. Young people have an entitlement to learn of this legacy, and the government has an obligation to teach them the rights they are guaranteed under international law.
“Good quality human rights education is not just about imparting information on UK citizen’s rights and responsibilities. It should also develop the skills and values to protect human rights for everyone.
“In the UK’s increasingly diverse society, human rights provide a common language of mutual respect that has a vital role in drawing us together and building stronger communities and schools.
“Amnesty has a long history of working closely with teachers, and we will continue to produce high quality resources and training to bring human rights to life in the classroom.”
Anita Tiessen, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK, added:
“We know that when children learn about their rights as part of UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting School Award programme, it has a positive effect on the way they interact with each other, behave in school and engage in their own learning.”
Paola Uccellari, Director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England said:
“Human rights education has been shown to have a positive impact on aspects of the education system which are of most concern to the Government – standards, bullying and behaviour.
“The Government’s plans to roll back human rights education not only undermines children’s rights to learn about their rights, but also runs counter to the Government’s own policy objectives.”
Stephen Bowen, Director of the British Institute of Human Rights said:
“BIHR believes that every child should leave school with an awareness of the vital role human rights play in understanding how the UK is governed. We are disappointed that specific reference to human rights does not appear in the new citizenship curriculum. This is a worrying signal that our international promises on human rights education are being weakened, a failure which risks letting down our children.”
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