Communities unite to launch human rights project for primary schools

Lift Off gets backing from political leaders north and south

Amnesty International and teaching unions on both sides of the border will put the issue of human rights firmly into the classroom today with the launch of three exciting new books targeted at primary schools pupils as part of the human rights initiative, Lift Off.

The books will be formally launched by Northern Ireland Minster for Education Caitríona Ruane MLA at Stranmillis University College in Belfast.

The project’s wide support north and south will be illustrated by those present at the launch.

Ms Ruane will be joined by Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, Colm O’Gorman, Director of Amnesty International Ireland, and pupils and teachers from schools on both side of the border.

Representatives of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) and the Ulster Teachers Union (UTU) are also due to be present.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

"Lift Off has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of Children's rights throughout Ireland.

“It’s not just in the simple message of respecting one another. Research has consistently shown that where human rights forms a key part of the curriculum school attendance increases, behaviour improves, pupil language becomes more sophisticated and their respect for the school environment and their fellow pupils grows.

“This project has the potential to make a real difference to everyone in the community.”

Caitriona Ruane, Minister for Education in Northern Ireland, said:

"Citizenship is an exciting new part of the revised curriculum that will enable our young people, who are global citizens in an ever-changing world, to make a positive contribution to their school and wider community and develop a culture where there is greater respect for one another.

“I would like to congratulate Amnesty and the teachers involved, in developing these resources as they will provide valuable support for all primary teachers."

Frank Bunting, Northern Secretary for INTO, said:

“INTO have been involved in this project from the very beginning. We are proud to be able to put the issue of human rights firmly into the classroom.

“We live in a diverse society and it’s essential for the young pupils we teach to learn from it. These books give teachers the tools to do exactly that.”

Avril Hall-Callaghan, Ulster Teacher Union’s General Secretary, added:

"Teachers have always been at the forefront of human rights, and the Ulster Teachers Union is delighted to be behind this great initiative.

“For teachers, Lift Off represents a great opportunity to remind teachers about why they came into the profession in the first place – to make a difference.

“Every teacher wants to improve the lives of the Children's rights they teach – and this series of books which were written by serving teachers will help.”

Background:
· The event starts at 10am.
· Lift Off is a cross-border human rights education initiative for primary schools.
· The project is co-funded by Amnesty International, the Department for Education in Northern Ireland, the Department for Education and Skills in the Republic of Ireland and Irish Aid.
· It was developed in partnership with Amnesty International (UK and Irish sections), the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) and the Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU).
· The resources have been developed by primary school teachers throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and aim to promote an understanding and respect for human rights in young Children's rights.
· The new classroom resource materials are entitled The Right Start (Primary 1-3), Lift Off (Primary 4&5), and Me, You, Everyone: rights and responsibilities (Primary 6&&).
· For more details on Lift Off visit the website www.liftoffschools.com
· Children's rights from north and south of the border will present some of the work they have been doing with the support of the resource books and through the website at today’s launch.
· Pupils from Stranmillis Primary School, St Mark's Primary School, Dunmurry, Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh, Belfast, Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School, Lucan, Co Dublin and St Fergal's National School, Bray, Co Wicklow are due to attend the event.

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