Human rights

6 Sep 2011

Global issues image © NEAD

Teaching about human rights and the values underlying them helps to create a culture within a school where everyone’s rights are respected.

What are human rights?

“Human rights are about treating all people with the equal dignity that they are entitled to as human beings. Every person in the world, including children, must be recognised as having the same worth and dignity without regard to such differences as ethnic origin, colour of skin, sex or beliefs. Working out what this principle means in terms of individual entitlements and needs has arguably been the most important advance of recent history.”

Why teach about human rights?

The description above, taken from Amnesty International UK’s Human Rights in the Curriculum demonstrates exactly how wide ranging and also how essential human rights are.

Teaching about human rights from a very young age helps children to understand that they matter. From here they can progress to see how human rights are universal. They can also then learn that with rights, as you get older, come responsibilities. It can introduce thoughtful discussions about many key Citizenship and Humanities themes such as the rights and freedoms underpinning communities and society as a whole, as well as linking to work on race equality. Children often have a strong sense of justice and what is ‘fair’ – and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (and later the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) can provide a language with which they can discuss the idea of fairness. A deeper understanding of the concept of human rights is as much about respecting others’ rights as knowing your own.

There is not only a legal entitlement for every individual to have their rights respected, but also an entitlement for everyone to learn what those rights are. The UK government signed up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and this includes a commitment to teach children and young people what their rights are.
» For more details, read Unicef’s guide to the Convention

Read about how other schools have covered human rights

» Learning about rights in Year 2

Teaching resources

This 8-minute video clip provides a useful overview.

Browse through teaching resources relating to Human Rights or Child Rights.

Useful websites

Amnesty International
One of the world’s leading human rights organisations. Their UK website has a range of useful teaching resources: Amnesty International UK Education web page.

UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award
Nationwide award scheme based on the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Find out more on the Rights Respecting Schools Award web page.

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