Human Rights Education in Asian Schools Volume II
Teaching Citizens' Rights and Obligations in Vietnamese Secondary Schools
The study of citizens' rights and
obligations is important and given great attention in Vietnamese
schools, especially at the secondary level. As future productive
members of society, students should know their rights and obligations
as citizens, and as members of the community, nation and
Citizens' rights education is closely
linked with citizens' obligations education. Students learn that
while they enjoy certain rights, they have to fulfill their
obligations to society. Article 51 of the Vietnam Constitution
provides: "The rights of citizens are not separated from the
obligations of citizens. The state ensures the rights of citizen; the
citizens must fulfill their obligations toward the society and the
state. The rights and obligations of the citizens are defined by the
constitution and law."
If systematically and properly
taught, such education will have great impact on society not only
immediately, but also in the long run.
Objectives and Content of Citizens' Rights and Obligations Education
Citizens' rights and obligations education has the following
- systematically provide knowledge on citizens' rights and obligations in different areas of social life;
- teach students positive attitudes and feelings toward their rights and obligations;
- train students to behave properly and develop the habits that will help them enjoy their rights and perform their obligations.
Each nation has its own culture and history, which define its
citizens' rights and obligations. As former UN Secretary-General
Boutros Boutros Ghali said:
rights are a common issue among all members of the international
community, and each member of the community realizes itself in
these issues, each culture has its own way to contribute to the
realization of these rights."
In Vietnam, the content of rights and obligations education is as follows.
For lower-secondary school students
- Concepts relating to citizens, the state, law and relationships among these concepts.
- Fundamental freedoms and related obligations of the citizens.
- Citizens' rights and obligations with respect to
- social order and security;
- education, culture, science and technology;
- the economy and labor;
- participation in the management of the state and society.
For upper secondary school students
Issues are treated more deeply and
systematically. Subjects include the following:
- The Constitution of the
Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with emphasis on citizens' basic
rights and obligations with respect to politics, economics,
culture, society and education, freedom, democracy.
- Rights and obligations to work, in civil affairs, in business,
relating to land, in marriage and family life, and the obligation
to pay taxes and to defend the fatherland.
Civics education is concerned with the relationship between
- ethics and citizens;
- the economy and citizens;
- the state machinery and citizens.
It combines traditional methods with
modern ones such as lectures, dialogues, training, situation-based
debate, value clarification and role-playing.
Extracurricular activities can help
in the teaching of citizens' rights and obligations. Examples
- conducting surveys in
students' communities on the people's level of awareness of
citizens' rights and obligations;
- visiting historic and cultural sites;
- helping to protect the environment;
- organizing contests to spread awareness of citizens' rights and obligations.
However, these activities must accomplish the following:
- ensure that the content is substantial and attractive;
- encourage all students to participate;
- promote students' ability to take care of themselves;
- induce education agencies to support them.
Methods of Education
Methods of educating students on
citizens' rights and obligations must meet certain standards:
- They must be activity-based and integrate the concepts into the students' lives.
- They must be learner-centered. They must
- emphasize what the learners need to learn rather than what the teachers think they need to teach;
- develop critical thinking;
- enrich the students' imagination.
- They must be interdisciplinary. They must
- help the students know how to use their knowledge of the many subjects related to rights and obligations;
- help the students avoid judging situations or solving problems superficially or without evidence.
- They must be participatory. They must
- require the students to be active, rather than merely listening and reading;
- guide students so that they do not resort to extreme behavior.
Citizens' rights and obligations
education is of both immediate and long-term importance. The
following conditions will help us conduct education more effectively:
- Education administrators at all levels must believe in the importance of citizens' rights and obligations education.
- The majority of teachers, especially teachers of civics education, should be trained to teach citizens' rights and obligations.
- Reference materials for students and teachers should be developed.
- Teaching and learning materials and aids should be available.
Freedom of Belief or Religion
Help pupils understand that:
- Having or not having a belief or religion is the right of each person.
- Nobody is permitted to violate anybody's freedom of belief or religion, or to benefit from it illegally.
II. Suggestions on Content and Methods
1. Every citizen has the right to follow or not follow a belief or religion.
What does "Belief" mean?
What does "Religion" mean?
- Let pupils know that there are
different beliefs and religions. To follow or not to follow any
belief or religion is the right of each person. No one may violate
freedom of religion.
- A person has the right to change religions.
2. Violating the right to freedom of
belief or religion, or benefiting from it illegally is
a) This part stresses three
- Teachers help the pupils
understand that no one may compel, forbid or hamper exercise of
religion, and no one may discriminate against people because of
- Places of worship must be respected. Some are of great
architectural and cultural value and should be preserved.
- Belief and religion should be distinguished from superstition.
Superstition may result in loss of money or health; it may even
b) Benefiting illegally from religion is prohibited.
The teacher should underline the following points:
- All beliefs and religions
teach us to live honestly, work for self-improvement and become
virtuous by doing good works.
- People of strong religious belief have made huge contributions
to the protection of national independence and
- Some people benefit illegally from freedom of belief or religion
and, in fact, harm members of the faith. The teacher should
emphasize that there are laws to prevent this and that it is
necessary to punish people who profit from it.
3. Freedom of belief or religion must
be respected by others.
- Pupils must remember that
customs of worship are a good cultural practice that should be
Labor as a Right and Obligation of the Citizen
- Labor is the citizen's
right. All have the right to work, for themselves, their families
and their country.
- Labor is the citizen's obligation. All have to work to support
themselves and their families and to produce material and
intellectual wealth for society.
Pupils must learn to respect both
manual and intellectual work in every economic sector. They must
study hard and follow school rules. They must understand that while
the state has employment-generating projects, citizens must also
create or seek employment for themselves.
Teachers should study the employment situation in their schools, how
labor is drawn into various economic sectors, as well as data on
unemployment in other countries, for example.
III. Suggestions for Content and
1. Labor is the citizen's right.
To make pupils aware of the right to
work in a multisectoral market economy, the teacher divides the
analysis and explanation in the following manner:
- * The right to work covers
actions that produce material and intellectual products, such as
farming, forestry, or working in state offices, state-owned or
private enterprises. Citizens have the freedom to engage in trade
and to create or seek employment for themselves. They can, for
example, engage in family business, be entrepreneurs, establish
cooperatives, participate in a stock company, work in a private
- The right to use one's labor means the right to choose a career,
job and workplace, and to negotiate working conditions by labor
contract with employers (working time, duration, salary,
2. Labor is the citizen's obligation.
By now, pupils have gained some knowledge about this. The teacher can
present a problem to the pupils for discussion about obligations
toward themselves, their family and society.
3. The state must protect the citizen's right to work.
The teacher helps pupils think about the following issues:
- The state "in cooperation
with corporations, and economic and social organizations" creates
employment by developing different economic sectors, implementing
the open-market economic policy to attract foreign capital,
exporting labor, and teaching family planning to prevent too-rapid
The teacher can contact employment
promotion services and career centers.
a. Legal methods
- The rules regarding state
officials stipulate their labor regimes (working time, holidays,
- The Labor Law stipulates the rights and obligations of employees
and employers. The teacher must help pupils understand the
concepts of "employee," "employer" and "labor contract."
The state must ensure that the Labor
Law is followed by doing the following:
- inspecting workplaces;
- considering petitions concerning dismissal, for example, and other labor problems;
- dealing with violations of citizens' right and obligation to work.
The teacher should emphasize that the
state protects the benefits of laborers as well as the profits of the
4. How do citizens use their right
and obligation to work?
The teacher brings up the problem to pupils for discussion and asks
what they have learned about labor from the newspaper, radio,
television or their communities.