Amnesty leader hails Northern Ireland teachers as 'quiet revolutionaries'

Amnesty International leader, Kate Allen, today (20 October) hailed Northern Ireland teachers involved in human rights education as "quiet revolutionaries", who are changing the world by giving Children's rights the knowledge and skills to challenge injustice at home and abroad.

Ms Allen, Amnesty International's UK Director was speaking in Belfast at the opening of a cross-border conference on human rights education attended by teachers, education officials and human rights experts from north and south, as well as from England, the United States, New Zealand and South Africa.

Welcoming delegates to the conference, she said:

"I have always thought of those involved in human rights education as the quiet revolutionaries. It is their work – whether in the classroom, the principal’s office, the teacher training college, the curriculum council, or even the government department – that can make the world a fairer place.

"It is their work that can equip new generations with the confidence, the knowledge and the skills to challenge the injustices of the world and re-shape it to the extent of their dreams. There are many such teachers in Northern Ireland, whose work Amnesty International is delighted to be able to support."

While thanking the Department of Education in Northern Ireland for its efforts to date, she called on officials to do more to support human rights education:

"There is an international legal responsibility on the state to ensure people know their rights. Yet, how many educators are even aware of this?

"The gap between the stated commitment to human rights education by governments on the one hand, and the low level of activity to address this on the other is enormous. More must be done, here and internationally."

Background

Kate Allen was speaking at the conference (Inspiring Practice: Human Rights Education in Primary Schools) being held at the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast.

The conference is organised by Amnesty International, Ulster Teachers' Union, Irish National Teachers' Organisation, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Irish Human Rights Commission.

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