e Questions that students could understand
The student questionnaire (see Section 6) aimed to be equally straightforward for respondents in each country. Each group of questions corresponded to a separate dimension in the Conceptual Map. The first two groups - on law and the administration of justice, and on equality of opportunity - described commonplace incidents of an apparent theft from a shop and an interview for a job, and built questions round them. The remaining groups were more abstract and conceptual in nature, and asked the students to rank their answers in terms of agreement/disagreement, importance/unimportance and so on. Each batch of questions concluded with at least one that was open-ended, to provide for a student input which might be divergent.
It is not easy to devise questions which can be equally meaningful in varied societies. For instance, in Northern Ireland, where many court houses are fortified and juvenile cases are not heard in public, 56.5% of the sample answered No to the question, “Would you expect members of the public to watch the case being tried in court?” In Botswana, where media penetration is not high and there is no national television service although South African TV channels are received, it was inevitable that students would report that media had played a less prominent role in promoting understanding. Botswana answers about advertising and consumer rights may also have been affected.
Broadly speaking the students said they understood the term human rights, and had little difficulty with the questionnaire. One or two questions may have been overly complex - for instance Indian researchers thought it might have been more productive to have separated religious from other freedoms in the question, “Imagine that you are a grown-up adult in your country. How important do you think it is for you and the well-being of your country that you and your friends should....Be free to join societies, political parties, trade unions, and to follow the religion of your choice?”
In Zimbabwe there was an interesting response to the question, “All countries suffer from fights and murders. Fights in the home can result in injuries. Violence is much worse where there is a war or civil war. Do you think...people who use weapons or violence do so because they think they are stronger?” Of the younger group 52.9% disagreed, as did 47.8% of the older ones - presumably because they saw a resort to weapons as a sign of weakness, a response or perhaps an interpretation which was different from that in the other three countries where the majority saw the use of violence as being resorted to by those who think they are stronger.
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