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Human Rights Education in Asian Schools Backnumber


Human Rights Education in Asian Schools Volume Ⅰ

The Human Rights Education Program of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) of the Philippines

Nerissa Lansangan-Losaria
Pasig City, Philippines

Background

The teaching of human rights in Philippine schools is mandated by Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that all educational institutions shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity and respect for human rights. This was further reinforced by the issuance of Executive Order No. 27, s. 1987 entitled "Education to Maximize Respect for Human Rights" following the peaceful EDSA Revolution in 1986. These mandates were the bases for the issuance of DECS Order No. 61, s. 1987 on the "Inclusion of the Study of Human Rights and Accompanying Responsibilities in the School Curricula at All Levels." Since then, human rights concepts have been integrated in different subject areas such as Social Studies, Values Education for elementary and secondary levels, and Political Science and Practical Law for tertiary level.

   At present, the teaching of human rights follows the integration process. Though in some tertiary schools, human rights is taught as a separate subject, in the elementary and secondary levels human rights concepts and values are integrated in Social Studies and Values Education where most of the competencies relevant to human rights are found. There are also entry points in Communication Arts (English and Pilipino), Science, Arts, Technology and Home Economics and Mathematics.

   An on-going project of the Staff Development Division - Human Resource Development Service ((SDD-HRDS) and the National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP) is the Development of Human Rights Education Teaching Exemplars for Elementary and Secondary Levels.

   The initial step taken was the holding of consultative workshops to plan the activities in human rights education (HRE) and meet our counterparts in government and non-governmental organizations. A National Consultation Workshop on Human Rights Education among government, non-governmental organizations and academe was held divided into four regional clusters in 1997. This consultation workshop aimed at having an inventory of all human rights activities across regions by these sectors; formulating a common vision on human rights education; and developing coordinated plans of action for the observance of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education. The action plans were compiled in the Philippine Decade Plan of Action submitted to the United Nations. Supervisors of DECS, information officers of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), teachers/professors from the academe, and sectoral representatives from various human rights groups participated in these workshops.

   The only issues raised in these workshops are the coordination of human rights education efforts to avoid overlapping activities and the pooling of resources and expertise from the DECS, CHR and the NGOs. It was noted that while DECS held its own advocacy program, the Jose W. Diokno Foundation was simultaneously holding training of teachers. Through the regional cluster workshops, DECS representatives were able to compare programs with the NGO representatives and identify areas for cooperation and expertise exchange.

   The next step was to look into the curricula, specifically, entry points in the learning competencies prescribed for Philippine public schools, where human rights values and concepts can be integrated. When entry points have been identified, instructional materials and teaching guides were developed by the DECS through the Bureaus of Elementary, Secondary and Higher Education. The Bureau of Non-Formal Education has integrated human rights concepts in their modules for clients outside the formal school system. Some private schools also contributed to the production of prototype instructional materials.

   Another step taken was to implement advocacy programs on Human Rights Education (HRE) for trainors, curriculum writers and supervisors. The DECS and the Commission on Human Rights have a Joint Declaration of Undertaking along training, research, monitoring and evaluation, policy formulation and networking. Advocacy programs and curriculum workshops were conducted through the SDD-NEAP. Seminar-Workshops on Human Rights Education and Orientation on Child Rights are examples of these programs.

DECS HRE Teaching Exemplars

The development of the HRE teaching exemplars is anchored on the precept that education is a basic human right and a crucial tool for the promotion and protection of all human rights. Human rights efforts become more meaningful and effective if these are extended to classroom teaching and benefit most especially school children.

   The integration of human rights concepts in the existing curriculum requires the development of instructional materials and the continuous revision and updating of these materials. While prototype instructional materials were developed at the start, only some of these materials made reference to the prescribed learning competencies expected of school children to acquire and learn from Grades I to IV. Unless these materials are based on the learning competencies, teachers have the option to teach or not to teach human rights. The HRE teaching exemplars developed in 1997 are based on the revised learning competencies. Each lesson is activity-oriented, providing the pupils life-related classroom experiences wherein they can actually exercise their rights and respect the rights of others. The HRE teaching exemplars will be distributed to public and private schools nationwide starting year 1998-99. The HRE teaching exemplars do not contain lessons for tertiary schools since there is now a separate Commission on Higher Education. The activities involved in this HRE Teaching Exemplars project are as follows:

  1. Consultative-Workshop on the Identification of Human Rights Concepts and Messages and Entry Points in the Learning Competencies.
      The learning competencies are the knowledge, skills, and values/attitudes for each subject area that elementary and secondary pupils are expected to acquire after each grade/year level;
  2. Writing-Workshop in the Development of HRE Teaching Exemplars with curriculum writers, human rights experts and trainors having participated as writers. 125 teaching exemplars were developed for different subject areas;
  3. Orientation on the Field-Testing of HRE Teaching Exemplars
      The orientation was of three parts: advocacy, giving of guidelines and instructions for the field-testing and teaching demonstration using the teaching exemplars. Initial suggestions for improvement of the lessons were gathered from the teachers;
  4. Actual Field-Testing in Public and Private Schools.
      The field-testing provided information on the appropriateness and usability of the exemplars, awareness level of teachers on the teaching of human rights, and awareness level of pupils on human rights;
  5. Final Revision and Critiquing of the HRE Teaching Exemplars.
      Feedback and suggestions from the field-testing were incorporated in the lessons exemplars. Critiquing and evaluation of the exemplars were also conducted for final check and revision;
  6. Production;
  7. Launching and Distribution to Public and Private Schools (to be implemented in Summer 1998).
      The launching will also serve as training for teachers on the use of the teaching exemplars; and
  8. Monitoring and Evaluation on the teaching of human rights in schools.

Writing Workshop on the Development of HRE Teaching Exemplars

A workshop was held to develop teaching exemplars for classroom use. Since the teaching of human rights follows the integration process, it is necessary to provide teachers with teaching aids to ensure that human rights concepts are integrated in their regular load. The integration process includes looking for entry points in the curriculum where human rights can be discussed.

   Following is an example of this process:

Learning competency in Social Studies for Grade I Human Rights Objective

Ability to introduce oneself as Filipino To understand that every child has a right to a name and a nationality

   The learning competency is simply being able to introduce oneself as a Filipino and describing the Filipino and his/her difference from other nationalities. This is a good entry point for teaching about rights to be born, to a name, and to a nationality.

   The teaching of human rights can also make use of skill/competency, for example:

Learning Competency in English for Grade II Human Rights Objective

Recite a poem   Identify rights of a child

   The poem (or letter as in letter-writing, picture in picture analysis, etc.,) can feature a human rights situation or content. The competencies or skills are developed first in the lesson and the human rights teaching comes in the analysis part by asking pupils what the poem/letter/picture is all about. In this way, pupils are acquiring the competencies in English and at the same time learning about their rights and respect for human rights.

   The development of teaching exemplars is a way of helping teachers in the teaching of human rights. Teachers are provided with ready-made lesson guides on regular topics with the integration of human rights concepts and values. With the exemplars, human rights can be taught from Grade I to Grade IV.

   Among the human rights concepts developed in the exemplars are the following:

a. equality (gender and race);
b. peace and social justice;
c. unity and diversity;
d. environmental protection;
e. patriotism and nationalism;
f. justness and sincerity;
g. child rights;
h. basic human rights.
   The strategy utilized in the HRE teaching exemplars is the 4As Approach (Andragogy or Adult Learning Process). The 4As are activity, analysis, abstraction and application. The 4As approach has been proven effective on school children in eliciting their insights, feelings and learnings after letting them undergo an activity. The idea is that the learner is a rich source of information and experiences which, if processed could contribute to better understanding of the concepts and topics presented (analysis). The teacher provides integration and additional inputs (abstraction) relevant to the promotion of human rights. Each exemplar is provided with information and handouts on this. After each lesson, there are activities/mechanisms that immediately provide for the transfer of learning (e.g., case analysis or situationers). These form part of the portion on application.

Parents and Educators Forum on Human Rights Education

The Parents and Educators Forum on HRE is primarily aimed at tapping PTAs, student councils, and faculty clubs in the promotion of human rights. DECS and the Commission on Human Rights jointly launched this Forum to facilitate the inculcation of human rights values among school children and to serve as a venue to elicit issues and problems regarding the teaching of human rights in the classroom. The Forum held a session in late 1997. The activity was highlighted by panel discussion composed of educators, parents and representatives from the Commission on Human Rights. Issues ranging from violations of child rights to roles/functions in the promotion of human rights were discussed and clarified.

   The Forum was created based on the premise that human rights education is not only the concern of schools but a joint undertaking of educators and parents. The home is viewed as the extension of the school and vice-versa as far as values formation and welfare of children are concerned.

   The Forum's session in late 1997 served as the venue for the initial launching of the HRE exemplars. It is deemed appropriate for parents to know that school children are taught about their rights so that the exercise of these rights are reinforced at home. The teaching of human rights has to be cooperatively carried out by teachers and parents. Involving the parents in this endeavor can minimize, if not eliminate, the exploitation and violation of their rights (e.g., ensuring that school-age children are in school and are not forced to work to help the family financially).

Field -testing and review of exemplars

The field testing of the exemplars was done in 1997 to check on the congruence and usability of the exemplars in the light of the cultural differences and geographical location of schools in the country. It was also a check on whether the human rights content is sensitive to ethnic, religious and gender differences.

   During the orientation for the field-testing, the teachers expressed their concern that the teaching of human rights is another burden to their teaching load. They obviously based their remarks on the idea that they will be developing their own lesson guides. But upon learning that the exemplars are for classroom use, they expressed appreciation of the wide range of strategies and activities employed in the exemplars.

   A review of the exemplars followed using the results of the field-testing. This trimmed down the number of exemplars from 125 to 115. Ten lesson guides were forced to fit into the learning competencies which affected both the lesson proper and the integration of human rights concepts. The decision to drop ten lessons also depended on the teachers' suggestions and comments.

Next steps

The actual use of the exemplars will start after the distribution of the exemplars in public and private schools nationwide. DECS supervisors will monitor their actual use. The DECS Staff Development Division-Human Resource Development Section will conduct its own monitoring to check the relevance of the module. A continuous evaluation will be needed in order to make the exemplars adapt to the changing situation.

   Part of the program is the development of Trainors Manual. Those who will be trained in this program will serve as human rights trainors in their respective schools, parents-teachers associations and student councils.

   Since human rights education is a DECS special program, there will be regular activities and trainings to be undertaken. Among those lined-up are activities for non-teaching personnel and teachers/principals. Some of the drafted education action plans will be implemented from 1999 onward. These action plans are contained in the 10-year Plan on Human Rights Education submitted by the government to the United Nations.

Conclusion

The Human Rights Education Program of the DECS has gone beyond the advocacy level. It ensured that we as educators play a vital role in the development of a citizenry that values respect for the dignity of the individual, fairness and justness, and love for the environment that provides our basic needs.

   The experience in the implementation of the HRE program was marked with varied reactions. Some expressed appreciation that the effort came at the time the country has just been liberated from an oppressive rule. Some teachers were at first reluctant and indifferent, most of them having misconception that teaching about human rights connotes activism and resistance. Some administrators thought we might be molding teacher activists in the process. Some parents feared that children would come to them and demand for things they could hardly provide such as sufficient food, comfortable homes, clothes and education. All these negative reactions and misconceptions were gradually erased by the continuing education and close linkage with relevant sectors in the promotion of human rights. At present, these audience and clients have become our partners in this endeavor.

Annex

Sample Teaching Exemplar


Title 555
Grade Level: III
Concept Focus" A small family can meet basic needs
Subject Area: Science and Health, MLC 5.6
Period Covered: One session

I. Objectives

  • To enumerate the advantage of having a small family in meeting basic needs (MLC 5.6);
  • To compare small and big families in meeting basic needs;
  • To discuss the implications of meeting basic needs to certain rights that children should enjoy.
II. Materials

   Strips of paper with the following phrases separately written on it:

Right to nutritious food

Right to comfortable home

Right to clothing

Right to education

Right to health services


III. Procedure

   a. Priming: Ask the following questions

  • who eat canned sardines?
  • who can picture the situation inside a can of sardines?
   b. Activity

   Using an imaginary space, ask for five pupils to stay inside the space and do whatever they want to do (they can sit, play, lie down, dance, etc.). Call for another group (about twenty or more) and let them all stay inside the same space. Make sure that the pupils will be limited in their movements, their bodies crashing against each other. Let them move without going outside the space. Observe their reactions.

   c. Analysis

   Ask the following questions:

  • how did the members of the first group feel while inside the space?
  • how did the members of the second group feel? (the teacher will write on the board the responses in first and second questions)
  • how do you relate this situation to big and small families in terms of home, food, clothing, medical services, and education? ( the responses to this questions will also be written on the board)
  • what does the activity tell us? (expected answer: the more persons occupy a space, the more it becomes uncomfortable to them.)
   d. Abstraction

   Use the responses on the board in comparing the big and small families in meeting basic needs. Discuss the advantages of having a small family in meeting basic needs such as

  • sufficient and nutritious food;
  • comfortable home;
  • proper medical attention;
  • education;
  • clothes.
   Say: These basic needs correspond to rights given to children. (Post strips of paper written with child rights). Ask pupils to read them.

   Discuss the relationship between meeting the basic needs and providing children their basic rights to food, shelter, clothing, medical services and education.

   e. Application

   Say: When the time comes that you want to raise your own families, who do you prefer - a small family or a big family? Relate this to meeting basic needs and the rights to food, shelter, clothing, medical services and education.


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