d Effectiveness, examined or unexamined
The 1994 study had shown that Ministries of Education were wary of commenting on the effectiveness of teaching and learning in this area. A few quoted exam results in relevant subjects, Trinidad & Tobago suggested that social studies workshops for teachers had indicated a lack of teacher confidence, and several Ministries said that they relied on inspectors and curriculum officers to keep an eye on progress.
Throughout the world there are strong and contradictory views as to whether human rights and related matters are best assessed by exams or not, and a widespread recognition that in either case the experience of students in school and out is at least as important as what they are taught. In Botswana the present research recommended that human rights topics should be examinable. In India the majority of teachers interviewed thought that they should form part of an examination and would thereby gain greater attention from teachers and students; but a minority thought this would harm the kind of learning/teaching mode the field required, and it would be better to introduce them in classes not preoccupied with public exams. The educational administrators did not want exams.
In Northern Ireland there was an even split. Out of 15 teachers and advisers who were interviewed three thought there should be exams, three thought there should not, and the remaining nine had mixed feelings. In Zimbabwe the administrators interviewed were not in favour of examining human rights. They thought the focus should be on behaviour, attitudes and lifestyles, not easily examined. Their view tallied with that of students in all four countries, who felt there was a need to go beyond “talking about human rights” in the practice and ethos of a school.
Given the unsatisfactory status of exams as a test of young people's understanding, there would seem to be further scope for impact studies on the lines developed by the project committee for Commonwealth Values in Education.
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