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FOCUS June 2005 Volume 40

Workshop on Southeast Asian Human Rights Lesson Plans

On 5-7 April 2005, HURIGHTS OSAKA in collaboration with the Philippine Department (Ministry) of Education and with the support of the Bangkok Office of UNESCO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights held the Southeast Asia Orientation-cum- Training Workshop on Human Rights Lesson Plans in Manila.

The workshop was attended by 20 participants consisting of teacher trainers, education researchers, and education officials from 8 Southeast Asian countries (Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam).

Lesson plans for Southeast Asian schools

The workshop is a follow-up to the 2001 Southeast Asian Writeshop on Human Rights Lesson Plans that was also held in Manila. Participants from 6 Southeast Asian countries produced human rights lesson plans, and tested some of them inside school classrooms (primary and secondary levels) in Manila.[1]

Subsequently, in 2002, a Regional Review Team composed of educators from the 6 Southeast Asian countries reviewed, selected and revised the lesson plans in preparation to their publication. After 2 meetings in Bangkok and several months of exchanges via e-mail, the lesson plans were finalized in mid-2003. In November of the same year, Human Rights Lesson Plans for Southeast Asian Schools was published in Bangkok.[2]

During the whole year of 2004 till the first quarter of 2005, the publication was translated into Bahasa Indonesia, Khmer and Vietnamese languages with the support from UNESCO. Printed copies of the translations were distributed to educational institutes and schools in the 3 countries. In addition, the publication was translated into Chinese language, while the lesson plans were translated into Japanese and Farsi languages. The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand will be translating the whole publication into Thai language soon. There may be more translations of the publication into other languages in Southeast Asia.

Launching ceremonies

The launching of the publication and its translated versions preceded the actual orientation-cum-training workshop.

Mr. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Undersecretary of the Department of Education, in his welcome remarks, noted that while the Philippines may have already produced its own set of human rights teaching exemplars, the work is not finished yet. The government has to promote human rights education on top of many problems facing the Philippine school system.

The government cannot as yet reach thousands of school teachers since the production of the human rights teaching exemplars require a big amount of funds. Thus it is necessary to maximize whatever materials are available for human rights education.

Prof. Yoshio Kawashima, Director of HURIGHTS OSAKA, in his message, expressed the hope that the publication will be used at least as teacher training material. He also expressed the hope that it will continue to be translated into other languages.

Ms. Alexandra Cuyegkeng of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Manila office), which funded the editing and printing of the lesson plans, stressed the continuing interest and support of the foundation in human rights education.

Prof. Chiam Heng Keng, Commissioner of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, in representation of the Regional Review Team, related the hard work entailed in the review and revision of the lesson plans to prepare them for publication. She noted that the long hours of work in Bangkok paid off with the publication of lesson plans that reflect the different contexts in Southeast Asia and the application of human rights. She also noted that the publication is not at all perfect but it is worth being used.

Finally, Dr. Fe Hidalgo, Undersecretary of the Philippine Department of Education expressed the urgency of human rights education considering the problems faced by children.

A symbolic turn over of the publication and its translations was done by members of the Regional Review Team to participants from the Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam.

The launching ceremonies were fittingly ended with a dance performance by high school students. The student-dancers portrayed the plight of migrant workers - the risks and sufferings they endure in foreign lands in order to support their families. The dance performance captured the message of one lesson plan on migrant workers in the publication.

photo provided by participant from Cambodia

Orientation Workshop

The Southeast Asian workshop was held for the

  1. Orientation on the Human Rights Lesson Plans for Southeast Asian Schools; and
  2. Training on the use of the ideas in the publication for teacher training.

To achieve these purposes, the workshop program consisted of the following major components:

  1. Discussion on basic human rights principles
  2. Discussion on components of the publication, namely, human rights curricular framework and the human rights lesson plans
  3. Discussion on the use of the publication as a teacher training material in the different countries represented.

The publication blends the different national situations in Southeast Asia and offers model human rights lesson plans. Due to this feature, the publication may be appropriate as a teacher training material. This does not preclude the actual use of the lesson plans in the classroom, however, especially in countries where the lesson plans have local language version.

During the workshop, the resource persons pointed out a number of important issues in support of human rights education, as well as discussed the different components of the publication. The international support for human rights education consisting of human rights instruments, declarations and programs was presented. It was pointed out for example that the ASEAN Inter- Parliamentary Organization (AIPO), during its 14th AIPO General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur in September 1993 expressed support for human rights education through its "Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Human Rights".

Dr. Sirilus Belen of Indonesia referred to the 2003 version of ABC Teaching Human Rights publication of the United Nations to discuss human rights issues. Dr. Suthin Nophhaket of Thailand presented the basic principles of human rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Prof. Chiam Heng Keng of Malaysia discussed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) using materials from the Malaysian Human Rights Commission. UDHR and CRC are the main human photo provided by participant from Cambodia rights documents used in the publication.

Other resource persons discussed the integration approach in teaching human rights (Dr. Nguyen Thanh Hoan of Vietnam), the human rights curricular framework (Ms. Chin Yahan of Cambodia), the lesson plans format (Ms. Nerissa Losaria of the Philippines), and the human rights content of the lesson plans (Prof. Chiam). Prof. Chiam facilitated an exercise of checking the human rights involved in each lesson plan to emphasize the need to discuss specific rights (especially the rights contained in the CRC).

Sharing of experiences constituted a high point of the workshop. Participants appreciated the experience of Thailand in developing a program on human rights education that involves various government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the academe. This is coordinated through the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. They also learned about the experience of implementing a human rights education program and the difficulties involved, through the report from the Philippines.

The participants shared what they see as opportunities for human rights education. From Thailand, a nationwide program on the rights of the child was presented as an avenue for further human rights education work. The "LabSchool Project" is meant for the schools in disadvantaged communities in all provinces in Thailand. In Malaysia, the existing civic education program can be used for human rights education. Likewise the moral education program in Indonesia is fit for human rights education though it may have to be reoriented towards the rights perspective.

Training participants

Laos and East Timor were represented for the first time since HURIGHTS OSAKA started activities in Southeast Asia in 1998. Officials from the Ministry of Education of the 2 countries participated in the workshop. The representatives from Laos expressed interest in developing a human rights education in schools program. They said that Laos is new to this kind of program, although there are projects on the rights of the child and women in the country. The two representatives of the Ministry of Education of East Timor, who came one day late due to visa and transportation problems, were more of observers due to their unfamiliarity with the topic. But they nevertheless presented the teacher training system in East Timor.

Several country delegations informally expressed interest in undertaking activities in their respective countries, not only on teacher training but also the use of the publication in the classroom.

Subregional workshops

The Southeast Asian workshop is the first of two subregional workshops being organized by HURIGHTS OSAKA in 2005. A South Asian workshop will be held in New Delhi, India in late 2005. This workshop will focus on school curriculum development and will have participants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The results of the research project of HURIGHTS OSAKA involving 4 countries (India, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Japan) will be presented in this workshop as inputs. This research project focuses on education policy and human rights awareness of high school students.

For further information, please contact HURIGHTS OSAKA.


1. Visit for the report on the writeshop

2. The pdf file of Human Rights Lesson Plans for Southeast Asian Schools (English) is available at the following webpages:

  a. UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education Asia and Pacific Programme of Education for All (APPEAL)

  b. Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation Southeast and East Asia Office

  c. Amnesty International Australia website