h Experience of human rights education at school
These questions were only put to the 16 year old, older sample. The introductory statement was, As you know, you are taking part in an important study involving selected young people in four Commonwealth countries - Botswana, India, Northern Ireland in Britain, and Zimbabwe. It aims to find out what you know about human rights and similar issues, and will assist schools in future. There followed nine questions, and one open-ended one.
The aim of this group of questions was to see how the older students saw their schooling, as compared with other sources of information and ideas about human rights; whether they had any sense of a cross-curricular or whole-school commitment; and whether they had any suggestions as to what more schools could do.
The key findings here were:
i Except in Botswana, where fewer than half said they had heard about human rights over the previous two years, 80% and above in the other three samples had heard about human rights. However there was a difference between Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe on the one hand, where radio and TV were seen as both the biggest and most helpful sources, and Botswana and India on the other, where schools gave most information and were most helpful. The three tables are thus:
% Hearing about human rights over the previous two years, by source
% Stating where they had heard most about rights over previous two years
% Stating which source was most helpful over the previous two years
In terms of hearing about human rights over the previous two years the high response from India is noteworthy and the very high scores from Zimbabwe may reflect the focus on human rights which followed the Commonwealth Heads' meeting in 1991, with its widely-known Harare Declaration. In terms of where most was heard it is worth pointing out again that in Botswana there is no national TV, radio reception can be defective in remote areas and newspaper readership is low. In the question on helpfulness, school was seen as third in importance in Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe; in India radio and TV were rated as almost as helpful as school, perhaps because the media deal with more current events and issues, perhaps more interestingly
ii Whereas most students in India thought their teachers were working together (67.1% to 30.9%), most in Northern Ireland, where Education for Mutual Understanding is intended to be a cross-curricular commitment, did not (by 71.7% to 21.7%). In Zimbabwe there was an even split - 50.6% thought their teachers were working together to make sure students understood rights and responsibilities, while 49.4% did not. Responses to this question were not collated in Botswana.
iii Students in all countries thought that schools could do more. In Botswana 23% said here should be more teaching of human rights in school; in India, where 73.3% wanted to see more done the practical suggestions were that schools should respect rights and duties in practice, and learning should not be restricted to textbooks; in Northern Ireland 34% wanted human rights classes; in Zimbabwe 78.7% wanted the school curriculum to include human rights.
In conclusion: There is a marked contrast in the findings from Botswana and India on the one hand, where school is seen as the most valuable source both quantitatively and qualitatively, and Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe on the other, where schools are not seen as the key information source, but the media are. In Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe also, the teachers are not seen as working closely together, which suggests that initial and in-service education of teachers are of crucial importance. When it comes to their suggestions for improvement, students give an overwhelming significance to the role of schools. School ethos and administrative practices are highlighted. The importance of the broadcasting media everywhere, in introducing issues of human rights to young citizens, is underlined.
[Ukrainian] [English] [Russian]