Our tips for teaching human rights law
Getting to grips with understanding human rights law can seem somewhat daunting – well, at first glance, that is. You may be thinking "Where do I start?" We may not even recognise when, where and how our human rights are being protected.
The thing is, the laws related to human rights cover practically everything associated with our very existence and our daily lives. Human rights law defines our freedoms and gives us hope for a future based on equality, peace and justice. Our human rights give us a chance to “be” - to be protected and to have fundamental rights.
On this basis, it is crucial that the teachings of human rights law be passed on from generation to generation. Encouraging and supporting this teaching through human rights education is vital for the move towards a world rid of discrimination, inequality and prejudice.
If children are introduced to the laws that promote individual and collective fundamental rights and freedoms, then a future based on stability, security and equality will become more realistic and achievable.
Children deserve to know what their rights are and to understand the meaning of equality. They can, in this way, learn about how they should be treated and how they should treat others.
More importantly, gaining knowledge about human rights law empowers the young from the classroom to the community. It gives them a voice to speak for themselves and others, to share their opinions and to find ways to tackle injustice on a daily basis.
This is particularly relevant now that the Human Rights Act is under threat in the UK. More than ever, value and importance needs to be placed on human rights. As Chris Riddell puts in in the beautifully written book, My Little Book of BIG Freedoms:
‘We need to stand up for these freedoms and look after them just as they look after us. Only then can we be sure that we and our children and our children’s children can grow up safe and sure of their protection.'
Chris Riddell, Children's Laureate
And with the help of education on human rights law, this can be made possible!
Interested in teaching about the fundamentals of human rights law?
We’ve put together a few resources to help get you started:
Have a look at our new speaker toolkit on the Human Rights Act. The toolkit, kindly written by DLA Piper Global Law Firm, is designed to support our volunteers to deliver workshops exploring the impact of the Human Rights Act. It is full of activity ideas that can be easily adapted to your educational setting.
This is a unique resource and part of a package of educational materials, including a booklet offering guidance on putting human rights at the heart of school life, ethos and culture, policies and practice. This package is suitable for Key Stage 3 'Citizenship' teachers in England.
Type in ‘human rights’ in the Guardian’s resource search engine and you’ll find a wealth of teaching resources on human rights.
Follow the link and you’ll find an array of lesson plans for different age groups covering a wide range of topics associated with human rights. You will even find a link to Amnesty International’s award-winning book, ‘We are all born free’, written to celebrate 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
‘Lesson 8 – What are human rights?’, is a secondary education resource that uses an interactive marketplace activity to enable students to think about the meaning of human rights and the role it plays in society. The aim of the lesson is to allow students to discover that human rights belongs to everybody, and that every human right is needed to live and flourish. You can also find additional lesson ideas by visiting the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.
Here you will find effective teaching and learning resources about development and global issues at Key Stages 2 and 3. Suitable for: Primary, Secondary and Special Schools.
Filter by subject, and you can find a whole range of lesson plans, worksheets and interactive exercises aimed at teaching the fundamentals of human rights.
‘ABC: Teaching Human Rights’ are not just lessons for the classroom, but lessons for life. The booklet offers practical activities for primary and secondary schools with an aim to empower and teach the young about the importance of rights and how to defend such rights in their daily lives.
This resource is a fun pack that can be used by both parents and teachers. Its aim is to inspire and educate children about human rights, the Human Rights Act, and how it works to safeguard the rights of all. With the ongoing threat to the Human Rights Act, this resource is of great relevance and could be used as an excellent starting point for discussing this important issue.
Written by Nora Helal, Education Workshops Volunteer.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.