Humane syllabus has 'right' impact

Human Rights incorporated as a subject in curriculum in 163 govt, aided schools


 Apart from goading students to protest against any form of injustice meted to them, it has a positive impact on their teachers and parents too. 

The course, designed by the Institute for Human Rights Education based in Tamil Nadu, is being taught in schools in 15 States in the country through a partnership with NGOs. A City-based NGO, South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), has been handling the course in the State for the last three years by training school teachers. And the impact is beginning to show.

Sample this case that took place recently at the Government Higher Primary School at Sira taluk in Tumkur district. During the lunch hour, the students generally followed a segregation pattern with the upper castes and lower castes forming separate groups to have their lunch, explains course co-ordinator in Karnataka, Margaret Sampath. “We introduced the course there three years ago here and gradually noticed the students realising this practice was a form of discrimination and now there is an intermingling of students during the lunch break,” she said. In another interesting incident, there was just one plate available and an upper caste and a lower class student shared their food using it.

In another case at the Government Higher Primary School at Doddabanaswadi, the toilets were locked and the keys were entrusted with headmaster. They were available only for teaching staff. “Students became aware that they had the rights to use it and approached their headmaster with their textbooks and won the right to use toilets.”

Margaret adds. The headmaster informed the NGO about the incident, she added.
Altogether 45 child labourers employed at menial jobs at Doddaballapur, Tumkur, Jayangar and Chikaballapur have been roped in to government schools as students taught the course made an effort to bring them back to schools.

Unique ‘tent schools’ near construction sites had also been started in 2007 at Bashettyhalli village at Doddaballpur in Bangalore Rural to teach children of migrants in North Karnataka who had to work for a living. Their plight was brought to light by students only.

The `Human Rights’ subject is taught for two classes each week for students from class V to VII and is not an examination paper. Books on the topics are being provided free of cost to students. 

Teachers, trained by SICHREM to teach the course, have virtually abandoned corporal punishment and are inspiring their colleagues to do so. Women `Human Rights’ teachers have now been emboldened to stand up against domestic violence within their homes. 

Another amazing aspect is that parents who browse through the ‘Human Rights’ books and notice the change in their children are motivated to fight for their rights. Noticing the difference it was creating among students, private schools have approached the NGO. “We have now started teaching Human Rights to 25 private schools in Shimoga and Davangere,” the co-ordinator  said.

Mathew Philips of SICHREM said the government needs to make it as a compulsory subject in schools to ensure a big transformation in society.

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