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State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Senator Noel Monteith has urged teachers not to view the inclusion of the Human Rights Education Primary Level Resource Manual as additional work, but to instead see it as a creative means of enriching the existing primary curriculum.
Senator Monteith was speaking today (December 8), at the launch of the manuals for Grades one to three, and four to six at the Ministry’s Heroes’ Circle offices.
“Through these materials, we aim to have human rights principles and concepts infused as integrated principles into our education system,” he told the gathering, adding that the revised primary curriculum already incorporated concepts, topics, themes, values, attitudes and skills, which appear in successive levels in keeping with the philosophy of a “spiritual curriculum”.
“Human rights education will be infused into the curriculum following this philosophy as the issues relate to the existing content and objectives of the revised primary curriculum for the particular grades,” the State Minister said.
He emphasized that the Ministry firmly believed that human rights issues and concepts were of fundamental importance to the overall education of all human beings and that the Ministry accepted that human rights would further enhance participation as well as the democratic processes, both of which could alleviate conflict and human rights violations.
“We are convinced that much of the conflict and much of the human rights violation which take place in our society can be alleviated, if we start the process of helping our children to understand their basic fundamental rights as human beings – their social rights, their economic political rights – if we help them to understand how these rights reconcile with citizenship and civic responsibility,” Senator Monteith said.
He pointed out that it was within this context that the Ministry had partnered with the Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights (IJCHR), in launching the manuals of resource material for primary school teachers (Grades 1-6), in the area of human rights.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer in the Ministry, Adele Brown informed that implementation of the manuals and accompanying material would begin in January, involving 25 schools in each parish.
The project is based on Human Rights issues, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and includes sample units of work for each grade. Teachers will be asked to examine these units and to adjust them to suit the ability of their classes. Thus, the manuals have been prepared in unbound format to allow for these adjustments, where necessary.
Elaborating, Chairman of the IJCHR, Dr. Lloyd Barnett said: “They are in loose leaf binders to make them flexible, so that teachers can add to the material as they go along. They can use their own initiative, to include things that they think could be interesting or particularly useful. so it is always a developing and adjustable resource”.
The manuals contain: a rationale for teaching human rights to children; a modified list of rights for pupils in Grades one to three based on the CRC; a modified list of rights for teachers of these grades; and the curriculum scope and sequence for Grades one to three.
They also comprise, the scope and sequence of suggested points of infusion of Human Rights Education; suggestions for teaching strategies and suggestions on how to create a good classroom climate; and three units of work, which have objectives, suggested teaching/learning activities, linkages to Human Rights Education (HRE), suggested resources and evaluation and assessment procedures.
The companion materials to the manuals include a booklet titled, ‘Little Akim Saves the Day’. “It really focuses on recognising the quality and the dignity of persons who suffer from any disability or handicap.little Akim who had such a disability is the star of this story, which has been well-received by the children,” Dr. Barnett informed.
He pointed out further that in the booklet, the rights of the child have been married to the responsibilities of the child, “so that the children will understand, that in order to enjoy their rights, they will have to respect other persons’ rights”.