Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Members of the global advocacy group Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) and local educators are meeting to discuss the introduction of human rights awareness training in school curriculums across the nation.
Mary Shuttleworth Founder and President of YHRI has traveled approximately 450,000 miles in 12 cycles around the world covering over 80 countries, teaching youth about the 30 articles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNHR) and inspiring youth to become advocates for tolerance and peace.
“We want youth to respect us adults and to respect each other,” said Shuttlworth. “So how can we expect them to show this respect to each other if they don’t even know what their human rights are and what it is they’re supposed to respect in somebody else. So it’s for us as teachers to teach them”
Shuttleworth suggests hands-on application methods that maintain the interest of youth. “With human rights it has to be fun. It has to be something that they create. Painting, drawing, create a play about how you see abuse and how it would be if you had human rights. So use activities that they contribute to and can internalize so that particular right becomes their own.”
Mrs. Ionie Liburd Willett, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, said that human rights awareness should be reflected in the new school curriculum. “We’re currently looking at the revision of our curriculum and human rights can be a thread,” said Willett. “We want to have a curriculum that is relevant and meaningful for children in this time and human rights has to be part of that.”
Shuttleford emphasized the need for human rights awareness to be embraced by everyone in a society, no matter the cost. “Human rights are for everybody. So we need to put it into the schools but we also need to take human rights to the workplace. We need to reach out in the media as well….the question is not what it would cost to teach human rights. The question is what it would cost not to.”