Human Rights Program Launches in High Schools

By Thu Thu Aung 24 August 2017

YANGON – A human rights training program has launched for thousands of high-school students in 73 public schools in Bago Region, according to U Aung Myo Kyaw of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

“The human rights introduction program is starting in the schools of our town under an agreement of the government and the education ministry in Pyay,” said Daw Mar Mar Zin, Bago’s Pyay Township Education Officer.

AAPP’s two-hour curriculum introduces the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child with cartoons, videos, talks and insights from human rights educators and activists.

“We aim to acknowledge respect for each other’s human rights and fundamental freedoms for the students,” U Aung Myo Kyaw told the Irrawaddy on Thurday.

Anywhere from 100 to 700 students will join the training sessions at each school. The program began on Aug. 1 and will conclude on Sept. 30. AAPP will visit the Taung Gyi and Monywa districts to check on the progress of participants and instructors.

“We found out that even the teachers didn’t clearly know what human rights were. They were also actively interested in program, and they asked for a CD and training assistance for further teaching in the classes,” said U Aung Myo Kyaw.

“Some requested that we talk about about responsibilities as well in the topics. We are glad to get this chance as a discussion for promoting human rights,” he added.

The Program was conducted in eight state schools in Yangon Region and three state schools in Bago in 2016. The program has been expanded widely, from 11 to 72 schools, with the permission of the region’s chief minister and education ministry this year.

U Aung Myo Min, a human rights activist and director of Equality Myanmar, told The Irrawaddy that the inclusion of a human rights curriculum needed to be part of the formal education system.

U Aung Myo Min added that this requires a proper curriculum based on the audience, and that the trainers should be qualified and committed.

Although it has been agreed that a new curriculum will be written collaboratively between the government, the Myanmar education research bureau and experts from Unicef, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Asian Development Bank, the implementation process has been delayed, reportedly due to government transactions.