General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Scheme to make pupils aware of human rights


18/02/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

A scheme that fosters an understanding of human rights among teachers and helps develop human rights education in the curriculum is to be extended to all primary schools in Ireland.

Lift Off was introduced to ensure a real understanding of justice and fairness among children on both sides of the border.

It aims to make children aware of their rights and responsibilities.

The scheme is jointly funded by Amnesty International, the north's Department of Education, the Department of Education and Science in the Republic and Irish Aid.

The resource was developed in partnership with Amnesty International, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation and the Ulster Teachers' Union.

The initiative includes a series of three education books, designed and developed by teachers for use in the primary school classroom.

The first book, The Right Start, is targeted at primaries one to three.

Another book targets primaries four and five and the third book primaries six and seven.

The resource books were developed by primary school teachers north and south.

The scheme comes at a time when human rights are increasingly being seen as the vehicle and means through which positive social change can occur.

Independent research has shown the value of human rights education in reducing conflict in schools and in bolstering children's self-esteem.

In addition, the revised curriculum of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment has taken account of values that underpin curricular objectives.

Included in these values are "each individual's unique capacity, equality, justice and human rights".

This week northern education minister Caitriona Ruane will help launch the Lift Off series of resource books.

It is hoped that a free copy of each resource book will be delivered to every primary school in Ireland, north and south, by April.

One of the teachers who has been using the book for the youngest pupils summed up the aim.

"The Right Start was not designed to teach human rights in faraway countries," she said.

"It was about learning new attitudes to each other in our own classroom, our own school."

During the launch, children from schools already involved in Lift Off will present some of the work they have been doing with the support of the resource books.

Work by children from other Lift Off schools will be on display.

President Mary McAleese is among those to have been shown an example of Lift Off in practice when she was given an exhibition during a visit to Stranmillis Primary School in south Belfast.

Pupils there showed the president two different Lift Off lessons.



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