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Human Rights Education in Asian Schools Backnumber


Human Rights Education in Asian Schools Volume Ⅰ

HRE in Associated Schools Project in Thailand

Valai na Pombejr
Bangkok, Thailand

Background

In order to contribute to the implementation of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, and to implement UNESCO's workplan for 1996-1997 aiming at promoting human rights and democracy, the Thai National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the UNESCO Associated Schools Project in Thailand initiated a Human Rights Education Program.

   The program aims to:

  1. contribute to the better understanding, recognition and protection of human rights;
  2. promote the application of the principle of equality of men and women and prevent discrimination and violence against women;
  3. reinforce networks of institutions active in education for Peace, Human Rights and Democracy with particular emphasis on the strengthening of the Associated Schools Project (ASP) in Thailand.
   The teachers and directors of the Associated Schools in Thailand are aware that the school has an important role to play in promoting peace, human rights and democracy. They believe that the ASP with the worldwide network of some 4,400 schools in 145 countries is an instrument for peace, respect for human rights, democracy and sustainable development. They are convinced that the basic goals of the ASP are to:
  1. prepare children and young people to be humane, rational, participating citizens in an interdependent world;
  2. develop in them a global perspective, critical awareness, appreciation of human diversity; and
  3. develop skills, values and attitudes which lead to commitment to responsible action for change towards a more just society, a better world.
   They therefore wish to consolidate the project and extend it to every part of the country. To do this, they have to be recognized by the Ministry of Education and to have its support in implementing the activities that they have initiated.

Main activities

In accordance with the terms of the contract no. 848.124.7 (97/2576) (483) signed between UNESCO and the Thai National Commission for UNESCO, four main activities were implemented:

   a. Preparation of lesson plans on human rights and democracy (December 1-10, 1997)

   Eight lesson plans were prepared to be integrated into secondary school curriculum, in particular into such subjects as moral education, social studies, Thai language and literature, English language, and sciences and environment education. The lesson plans demonstrate the interest of ASP teachers on such important issues as human rights and democracy which are among the world issues to be enhanced by the Associated Schools Project.

   It should be noted here that the human rights issue has always been avoided by the Thai ASP. The member-schools preferred other world issues, for example, international understanding, intercultural learning, environment. This is the first time that the ASP teachers and administrators are willing to be involved in HRE, and still we had to add "democracy" into our proposal in order to assure that the Ministry of Education would approve it. This is therefore the first attempt on behalf of the Thai ASP to openly prepare lesson plans on human rights and to test them in ASP schools. This is due to the constitutional support as well as the social and political environment which lead to the development of such lesson plans.

   There is a lesson plan on Buddhism and another one on Thai literature. These two lessons plans are very interesting. The one on Buddhism explains how human rights correspond with the five basic Sila and Dharma, while the lesson plan on Thai literature deals with the rights of the child and the rights of women.

   b. Selection of ASP schools for testing lesson plans

   A meeting was organized for directors and teachers of some 15 ASP schools in Bangkok who serve as members of the National ASP Committee to discuss how and where to test the plans. The meeting decided that three ASP schools in three provinces in the north, northeast and south Thailand be selected to serve as focal points for organizing workshops and testing lesson plans.

   The three schools, among the biggest and well-known schools in the selected provinces, are the following:

  1. Ammart Panichnukul School (Krabi province) with 2,200 students and 120 teachers;
  2. Benjama Maharaj School (Ubon Ratchatani) with 3,900 students and 210 teachers;
  3. Phitsanulok Phittayakhom School (Phitsanulok province) with 2,500 students and 135 teachers.
   The directors of these schools were requested to organize workshops for teachers and administrators of other schools in their provinces as well as to prepare classes for testing lesson plans.

   c. Program launching

   The program was officially launched on December 11, 1997 in a public forum with the presence of the Minister of Education and UNESCO high officials. Members of the media were also invited to help publicize the importance of human rights education.

   The government and UNESCO officials both saw the timeliness and appropriateness of the program particularly since Thailand has just ratified a new Constitution that for the first time guarantees rights which uphold the dignity of the individual. They also expressed their appreciation to ASP schools which initiated this significant program. They promised to support initiatives of this kind.

   The public forum was well publicized achieving its aim of getting public exposure. Sixty directors and teachers from 60 Associated Schools present in the forum were encouraged to continue to work hard to consolidate and expand the network.

   d. Organization of workshops and testing lesson plans

   In each of the three selected provinces, similar activities were undertaken consisting of the following:

   1. workshop for teachers and directors of various schools in the three selected provinces concerned.

   A total of 248 participants from 63 schools in the three provinces attended the workshops. High officials of the provincial government and provincial education office were also in attendance. The workshops discussed the lesson plans, the teaching/learning process, the way to integrate human rights into existing subjects, and means of handling reaction of students to the lesson plans, the instructors and the method of teaching human rights.

   2. classroom testing

   Three classes were used for testing the lesson plans in each of the three schools. There were some 40 to 45 students in the classroom and some 20 teachers attended the testing of each lesson plan. The subjects taught were social studies, environmental science, Buddhism, Thai and English languages.

   The teaching methods employed during the testing are not very different from the ordinary teaching methods employed in Thai schools. However, emphasis was made on reflection, critical thinking and group work. Eight teachers selected as resource persons for the project because of their commitment to the goals of ASP and their status as being the best teachers in Thai schools whose teaching methods are considered very good. Their experiences are helping shape the project. Also, since they have been involved with the ASP for many years, they are used to the ASP ways and means of creating awareness of and sensitivity to world issues.

   e. Evaluation

   A set of questionnaires was distributed to each student and teacher who attended the classroom testing exercise to evaluate the lesson plans and the materials used.

   The answers from the questionnaires reveal the following:

  1. both teachers and student welcome the program considering it as very important and useful;
  2. they found the lesson plans very well prepared;
  3. they also found the teaching/learning methods to be very relevant and stimulating, and confirmed that this way of teaching is very appropriate;
  4. the students seem to understand better the meaning of human rights and seem to be more involved in the program;
  5. the teachers were willing to prepare lesson plans of their own and promised to send some to the organizers of the program for inclusion in the existing lesson plans.
   There were also some problems identified in implementing the HRE program. They are as follows:

   1. the subject is quite new to the teachers. They do not have knowledge about human rights, neither do they have skill to teach this subject nor to introduce it into their subject areas. They need training and this is what is planned to be done as a follow-up to the first initiatives;

   2. there were quite a number of teachers participating in the workshop who wished to prepare lesson plans of their own. They were encouraged to do so but due to lack of knowledge, skill and time, they are unable to submit the lesson plans as promised.

   As to the dissemination of lessons plans all over the country, no obstacle is seen. But more lessons plans have to be prepared in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and other teachers.

   The lesson plans will later on be improved and published in the form of a sourcebook. This sourcebook will also be tested and introduced in training workshops for teachers. To be able to do this plan, however, financial support is needed and UNESCO will hopefully be able to provide needed support.

Conclusion

The Human Rights Education program organized by the Thai National Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with the Associated Schools Program was a success. All objectives of the program were achieved:

  • various lesson plans were prepared to incorporate human rights into many subjects;
  • the testing of lesson plans and the workshops were well organized;
  • the ASP network was introduced to some 50 schools which intended to join the network;
  • teachers and directors of those schools in the three selected provinces were willing to join the program and prepare more lesson plans.
   It was suggested that a training workshop be organized for teachers who wanted to prepare good lesson plans on human rights and democracy.

Annex A

Sample Lesson Plan on Slavery and Servitude

Objectives

At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:

  1. have an awareness of and sensitivity to slavery and other forms of servitude, and understand that slavery and servitude are against human rights;
  2. understand the slavery and the slave trade of the past and the slavery/servitude which exists at present;
  3. understand the value of human dignity when discussing bonded labor in their community and country;
  4. support public opinion and movement against bonded labor, child prostitution and child labor.

Related Values

Human dignity, respect for the basic right of every person, love and care, responsibility to others.

Procedure

  1. Encourage the students to reflect on the condition of slavery in different parts of the world. This can touch upon the Africans in America, apartheid in South Africa and bonded labor in Asia.
  2. Divide the students into small groups and ask them to discuss what they have studied. Problems such as child labor and child prostitution or other forms of discrimination can also be discussed.
  3. Ask the students to write their views about slavery and servitude in their own community or country and how they think this can be prohibited or combatted.
  4. Let the students examine Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
  5.       "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms."

  6. Organize a debate on the issue "Slavery and servitude in the contemporary world." A good debates means there is an understanding that slavery is inhuman and is against the values related to human rights.
  7. conclude by encouraging the students to participate in combatting slavery and servitude in their society.

Evaluation

  1. Observe the group discussion.
  2. Review the students' work.

Annex B

Sample Lesson on Respect for the Rights of the Girl Child

Objectives

At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:

  1. develop an awareness of and sensitivity to various occasions wherein society deprives girls of their rights;
  2. understand that "equality" among human beings necessarily implies rights of each individual irrespective of race, sex, caste, religion, etc.
  3. develop respect and a positive attitude towards girls and women;
  4. interpret the reasons for the present status of girls and women in their society.

Related values

Equality, justice, and respect for the basic rights of every person.

Procedure

  1. have students read the story "To be born a girl" in worksheet 1. Let them discuss the text among themselves;

  2. let students answer the questions in worksheet 2 orally. Then let them write the answers in their notebook;

  3. examine worksheet 3 and discuss the United Nations' efforts towards the recognition and upholding of the human rights of women;

  4. discuss the women's issues using the topics for discussion in worksheet 3;

  5. conclude by encouraging the students to be aware of the status of girls and women in their community and country, and to participate in promoting equality and justice in their country.

Evaluation

  1. observe the group discussion;

  2. review the students' work.

Worksheet 1

To be born a girl

   My name is Maya. I was born 14 years ago in a poor peasant family. There were already many children so, when I was born, no one was happy. When I was still very little, I learned to help my mother and elder sisters with domestic chores. I swept the floor, washed clothes and carried water and firewood. Some of my friends played outside but I could not join them.

   I was very happy when I was allowed to go to school. I made new friends there and learned to read and write. But when I reached the fourth grade, my parents stopped my education. My father said there was no money to pay the fees. Also, I was needed at home to help my mother and the others. If I were a boy, my parents would have let me complete school. My elder brother finished school and now works in an office in the capital. Two of my younger brothers go to school. Maybe they, too, will finish.

Worksheet 2

Direction: Answer the following questions orally first, then write the answers in your notebook.

  1. What does Maya's family do to earn their living?
  2. Why was no one happy when Maya was born?
  3. What is the girl in the family supposed to do when she was young?
  4. What is the boy in the family supposed to do when he was young?
  5. Do you think Maya is a good girl or not?
  6. Maya loved to study in school didn't she? Give some reasons.
  7. What was the reason why she had to drop out of the school?
  8. What would have happened if she were a boy?
  9. What happened to her brothers?
  10. Do you agree with Maya's parents?

Worksheet 3

Human Rights, Rights of Women

   The human rights of women is a subject that has often been controversial and is always a "sensitive" area because it touches an issue which affects virtually every human being in a very direct and personal way. Gender roles and concepts of masculinity and femininity are culturally defined and contextualized, and often highly particularized as a consequence of religious injunction and interpretation. Nonetheless, gender is a universally significant factor in the interpretation and implementation of human rights. The conclusions of the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women and the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights have clearly demonstrated that the women of the world probably suffer more human rights violations and discrimination than men, and, at the very least, gender-specific violations must be understood and addressed. Women's human rights education must be approached in a culturally-sensitive manner. But, as stated in the Beijing Platform of Action, culture cannot be used as a rationale for the violation of the fundamental human rights of women and girls.

Topics for Discussion

  1. Do you think being a man is different from being a woman?
  2. Do you think it is right to give more privileges to men or women?
  3. Women should stay home and take care of the house and their children, shouldn't they?
  4. With what sex would you like to be born? Why?
  5. If your parents wanted you to drop out from school in the middle of your education, what do you think you would do?
  6. Educate women, educate the world: Do you agree with these words? Give some reasons.

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