Lesson on Ethnic Discrimination (2 to 2.5 hours)


Lesson Overview (goals, skills, time, etc.)

Preparation (allow 10 minutes)


Section A: Introduction to Ethnicity (30-45 minutes; optional extension activities)

Section B: Ethnic Discrimination in the Global Community (45-60 minutes)

Section C: Positive Steps Against Ethnic Discrimination (45 minutes plus additional time for projects)


Lesson Overview


This lesson explores discrimination based on ethnicity.  The lesson is in three sections, each framed by guiding questions:


A. Introduction to Ethnicity (What is ethnicity?  How is it different from nationality?  What is my ethnic identity?)

B. Ethnic Discrimination in the Global Community (What are some of the causes and impacts of ethnic discrimination?)

C. Positive Steps Against Ethnic Discrimination (What is being done to address ethnic discrimination?  What can I do?)


The lesson begins by having students examine their own ethnic backgrounds.  Students interview family members to learn about their family histories and cultures.  This information is shared with the class with optional extension projects.

In Section B, students examine the causes and impacts of ethnic conflict around the world.  First, students review current events stories to gain a broad overview of the issue.  Next, students deepen their understanding of the economic, cultural, and political aspects of discrimination by analyzing a case study on Eritrea.  Questions, concept mapping, and other analysis strategies are used.

Section C presents ways to combat ethnic discrimination at the international, local, and individual levels.  A variety of activities and project ideas are provided.


Objectives.  After this lesson, students will be able to…

·         describe their own ethnic identity.

·         explain the economic, cultural, and political aspects of ethnic discrimination, both locally and globally.

·         provide examples of positive actions to combat ethnic discrimination at the individual, community, and international levels

·         plan, carry out, and evaluate their own actions to combat ethnic discrimination



ethnicity, nationality, culture; discrimination through economic, cultural, and political means



discussing; active listening; respecting others; working in small groups; self-evaluation; document analysis; planning, implementing, and evaluating actions


·         A journal rubric is provided to assess students' journal responses throughout the lesson.  You can give the rubric to students ahead of time if desired.

·         An optional poetry activity (Activity 3, Section A) provides a creative way for students to demonstrate their understanding of ethnicity.

·         In Section B, students analyze a case study through a concept map, questions, and other strategies which yield products for evaluation.

·         The activities in Section C provide opportunities for evaluation through exhibit or portfolio.  Opportunities for student self-assessment are also included.


Consider students' previous knowledge

Students may be unclear of the difference between race, nationality, and ethnicity.  The activities in section A (and handout of definitions) will help clarify these terms.



Materials and Preparation

Print and make one copy of these documents for each student:

·         Students will need their journals and the handout of definitions.  They may already have these from previous lessons.

·         the handout "Introduction to Ethnicity" (used in Section A)

·         the handout "Where I'm From: Sample Poems" (This handout is used for optional Activity 3, Section A.)

·         the case study on Eritrea (used in Section B)

·         the handout "Positive Steps Against Ethnic Discrimination" (used in Section C.)


Additional Preparations

·         The day before you begin this lesson, give students the "Introduction to Ethnicity" handout and have them respond to the questions at the top.  (Students can write in their journals or directly on the handout.)  Explain to students that they may need to interview family members for this activity.

·         If possible, gather census data on the ethnic make-up of your community, region, or country.

·         Review the case study on Eritrea.

·         You'll also need sticky notes or push pins, and a wall map of the world.


Selected websites on ethnic discrimination

·         http://www.pdhre.org/rights/discrimination.html  An overview of different types of discrimination and international efforts to combat it.

·         http://www.unhchr.ch/html/intlinst.htm  A list of documents and treaties developed by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. 

·         http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/problem/prejdisc.htm  Information on discrimination and efforts to overcome it in Bosnia, Ireland, and other parts of the world.




Section A: Exploring Ethnicity (30-45 minutes; optional extension)

Guiding questions: What is ethnicity?  How is it different from nationality?  What is my ethnic background?


1. Students explore their ethnic backgrounds

(10-20 minutes)

·         Distribute the "Exploring Ethnicity" handout to students before class and have them complete the questions at the top.  Have students bring their responses to class.

·         To begin the lesson, give each student two small scraps of paper and tape or push-pins.  (Removable "sticky notes" work well, too.)  On each piece of paper, have students write their name and the birthplace of one set of grandparents (or great-grandparents). 

·         Have students attach the papers to a wall map.  Review the results.

·         In pairs or groups of three, have the students discuss the responses to the questions from the "Exploring Ethnicity" handout. (Questions reproduced here):

- Where were your grandparents or great-grandparents born?

- What language(s) did/do your grandparents or great-grandparents speak?  What about their parents?

- What holidays did they celebrate?  What special customs did/do they follow?  What foods did they eat?

- Does your family now speak these languages or continue any of these practices?

·         Next, have all students sit in a circle and share some of their responses as a class.  Points to emphasize:

- Language, food, and other cultural practices are often passed down from one generation to the next.  Cultural practices are learned; we are not born with a predisposition to any single language or culture.

- When people come to a new country, they may adopt new practices while keeping traditional ways.  Have the class generate examples. Help students see that ethnic identity is not an "either-or" decision.


2. Definitions

(5 minutes)

·         Using the "Introduction to Ethnicity" handout, present the definitions of "ethnicity" and "nationality."  Draw examples from students' responses to clarify the terms.  Emphasize the following points, which are included on the students' handout:

·         Nationality refers to our citizenship -- in other words, the nation we are a member of.

·         Ethnicity, or ethnic identity, refers to membership in a particular cultural group.  It is defined by shared cultural practices, including but not limited to holidays, food, language, and customs.

·         People can share the same nationality but have different ethnic groups.  For example, citizens of the United States are of many different ethnic backgrounds. 

·         People who share an ethnic identity can be of different nationalities.  Turkish citizens of Turkey and Turkish citizens in Germany share an ethnic identity but are of different nationalities.

·         Once students are clear on the terms, have the class write a few minutes about their own ethnicity and nationality as instructed at the bottom of the handout.  Or, continue with the poetry activity below.


3. Optional: Poetry

(25-45 minutes.  Some parts can be done as homework.)

Note: In this activity, students create poems about their backgrounds; each stanza begins with the phrase "Where I'm From."  The activity is adapted from "Where I'm From: Inviting Students' Lives Into the Classroom."  In Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice, Volume 2.  Edited by Bill Bigelow, Brenda Harvey, Stan Karp, and Larry Miller.  Milwaukee: Rethinking Schools.  2001.  http://www.rethinkingschools.org

·         Distribute copies of the sample poems to students.  Have the class read one or both aloud.

·         As noted on the handout, ask students to describe the significant images in each poem (sights, sounds, smells, objects, people) and how they help paint a picture of the author's ethnic background.

·         As noted on the handout, have students generate a list of significant images and metaphors that reflect their homes and families.  Have students include items found in the house, other sensory images, family sayings or phrases, the tastes and smells of important foods, names of relatives, etc.

·         Have students incorporate these images into a poem.  As in the sample poems, each stanza should begin with "I'm from…"

·         After the poems are done, have students sit in a circle.  Ask for volunteers to share their poems.  After each poem is read, have the class describe 1) what they liked about the piece and 2) how the poem communicated information about the author's ethnic background. 

·         As an alternative to reading in a circle, have students read their poems in pairs.  Each student should write comments about their partner's poems as described above.  These comments can be used as part of the overall assessment.

·         Finish the activity by having students write about their own poem as described above.  This, too, can be used for assessment.


Additional extension ideas


·          Create a class collage or "museum " of artifacts representing students' ethnic backgrounds.  Items could include foods, household implements, clothing, pictures, and maps, as well as the poems from the activity above.

·          Have students use the information about their grandparents to create a timeline of their family history.  In a country such as the US where many students' families likely originate from other places, the timeline could include arrival of relatives to the US and reasons for coming.



SECTION B: Ethnic Discrimination in the Global Community (45-60 minutes)

Guiding questions: What are some of the causes and impacts of ethnic discrimination?


1.  Students review examples of ethnic conflict around the world and throughout history

(20-30 minutes)

·         To help students gain an understanding of ethnic conflict around the world, have students identify relevant stories in the media.  Assign a few students to review other conflicts the class has already studied, including examples from history. 

·         Students should write a brief summary about where the conflict is happening, who is involved, why the conflict is happening, and what is being done to address it.  The research and summaries can be done as homework. 

(Note: The goal of this activity is to raise awareness of ethnic conflict around the world and throughout history rather than to engage students in a thorough analysis.  The case study to follow focuses on analysis skills.)

·         Have students present their summaries and place markers on a globe or map to show where they are occurring. 

·         After all summaries have been presented, ask the class to identify connections among the different examples in terms of time, place, causes, impacts, and solutions.  These connections can be graphed using a concept map or other diagram.  Suggested questions:

- What, if anything, is similar about these cases of ethnic conflict?  In which cases does the conflict center on land or other natural resources?  Which cases center on political representation?

- Are the cases similar or different in terms of how they are being settled?  Which cases are relying on diplomacy and peaceful tactics?  Which cases involve violence? 

- Which cases are civil disputes (i.e., occur in a single country)?  Which cases involve more than one country?

- Can you draw any similarities between current conflicts and those from the past?

·         As you discuss the cases, emphasize that ethnic conflict can have economic, political, and cultural sides.  Review examples of each.  Tell students they will look at these issues more closely through a case study.  Then continue with the next activity.


2. Case studies

(30-45 minutes; some tasks can be done as homework)

·         Distribute the Eritrea case study. The case study can be assigned for homework and/or read in class, as a whole group, in pairs, or individually. 

·         After reading the case study, students will analyze it using one or all of the five strategies provided: 1. writing directly on the text, 2. organizing key points in a table, 3. creating a timeline, 4. creating a concept map, and 5. answering questions.  These strategies vary in terms of difficulty, allowing the teacher to choose appropriate tasks for learners of different abilities.  Suggestions:

- Choose one or two strategies that are appropriate to your students' level and assign them to all students.  Have students work individually or in pairs to complete the task(s).

- Break the class into five homogeneous skill groups and assign each group one of the analysis strategies appropriate to the groups' level.  The group is responsible for turning in the appropriate document and for providing evidence of how everyone in the group contributed to the task. 

- Divide students into heterogeneous groups of five.  Assign each student one of the analysis strategies appropriate to his/her level so that all five strategies are represented in each group.  The group is then responsible for turning in a complete set of documents (a marked text, a concept map, etc.)

·         After students are done with the analysis, have them present their work.  Emphasize the following key points throughout the discussion: 

- On the causes of the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia:  Eritrea's location on the Red Sea and the resulting economic and political benefits (trade, ports for military power, etc.) has made it a target of colonizers throughout history.  The control of Eritrea by Italy, Britain, and then Ethiopia increased the people's desire for autonomy.

- On the impacts:  Discrimination of Eritreans under the rule of Ethiopia happened through economic means (denying Eritreans property and a right to make a living), political means (dissolving their parliament and preventing self-determination), and cultural means (prohibiting language, books, and education).

- On the responses to the conflict:  The repression of Eritreans under Ethiopia and Eritreans' desire for economic, political, and cultural autonomy sparked the war.  Many citizens were forced to flee the country and withstood dangerous trips through the desert to refuge camps in Sudan.



SECTION C: Positive Steps Against Ethnic Discrimination (45 minutes; optional projects)

Guiding questions: What is being done to combat ethnic discrimination?  What can I do?


About this section

This section provides ways for students to combat against ethnic discrimination at three levels: 1. personal, 2. community, and 3. international.  The activities are described below; clicking on each will take you to the relevant student handouts.  The directions for the activities are self-explanatory and are provided on the students' handouts, as are websites for on-line projects.


Activity 1: Personal Actions: Students identify personal steps they can take to address ethnic discrimination.  Sample ideas are provided.  An optional set of project planning tools provide guidance for students who would like to plan and implement their own actions.

Activity 2: Learning About Ethnic Groups in the Community: Students use census data and other resources to learn about the experiences of major ethnic groups in the community.  Ideas for presenting information in a website, newsletter, or exhibit are provided.

Activity 3: Learning About International Policies: Students brainstorm ideas to combat ethnic discrimination at the international level, and compare their ideas to a UN declaration.  Students then conduct research to determine if and how their country has signed and/or implemented the UN declaration.















1.  Reflecting on Your Family Background

- Where were your grandparents or great-grandparents born?

- What language(s) did/do your grandparents or great-grandparents speak?  What about their parents?

- What holidays did they celebrate?  What special customs did/do they follow?  What foods did they eat?

- Does your family now speak these languages or continue any of these practices?


2. Definitions

·         ethnicity:  Refers to membership of in a culturally- and geographically defined group that share cultural practices including but not limited to holidays, food, language, and customs, or religion.  Italian, Kurdish, and Bantu are examples of ethnic groups.  People of the same race can be of different ethnicities.  For example, Asians can be Japanese, Korean, Thai, or many other ethnicities.

·         nationality: Refers to country of citizenship. Nationality is sometimes used to mean ethnicity, although the two are technically different.


·         People can share the same nationality but be of different ethnic groups.  For example, citizens of the United States are of many different ethnic backgrounds. 

·         People who share an ethnic identity can be of different nationalities.  Turkish citizens of Turkey and Turkish citizens in Germany share an ethnic identity but are of different nationalities.


3. What you have learned about your own nationality and ethnic background?  Write your thoughts in a journal or in the space below.




Section A, 3: "Where I'm From":  SAMPLE POEMS



Sample poem #1


I am from awapuhi ginger

sweet fields of sugar cane

green bananas.


I am from warm rain cascading over

taro leaf umbrellas.

Crouching beneath the shield of kalo.


I am from poke, brie cheese, mango,

and raspberries, from Marguritte

and Aunty Noni


I am from Speak your mind

it's o.k. to cry

and would you like it if someone did that to you?


I am from swimming with the full moon,

Saturday at the laundromat,

and Easter crepes.


- Excerpts from "I Am From Pink Tights and Speak Your Mind" by Djamila Moore.  Appears in Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice, Volume 2.  Edited by Bill Bigelow, Brenda Harvey, Stan Karp, and Larry Miller.  Milwaukee: Rethinking Schools.  2001.  http://www.rethinkingschools.org




Sample poem #2


I am from get-togethers

and Bar-B-Ques


I am from the smell of soul food

cooking in Lelinna's kitchen

From my Pampa's war stories

to my granny's cotton pickin'.


I am from Kunta Kinte' strength,

Harriet Tubman's escapes.

Phyllis Wheatley's poems,

and Sojourner Truths' faith.


If you did family research,

and dug deep into my genes.

You'll find Sylvester and Ora, Geneva and Doc,

My African Kings and Queens.

that's where I'm from.


- Excerpts from "I Am From Soul Food and Harriet Tubman" by Lealonni Blake.  Appears in Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice, Volume 2.  Edited by Bill Bigelow, Brenda Harvey, Stan Karp, and Larry Miller.  Milwaukee: Rethinking Schools.  2001.  http://www.rethinkingschools.org





1.  The author's used imagery that appealed to many senses.  What images describe or refer to sights?  Sounds?  Tastes?  Smells:  Things you can feel? 

2. Who are the significant people described in each poem?

2. How did the author's let you know about their ethnic backgrounds?  Provide examples of phrases that especially spoke to you.


Write your own poem


1. Generate a list of significant images and metaphors that reflect your home and family.  Include the following:

·        items found in the house

·        family sayings or phrases

·        the tastes and smells of important foods

·        other sensory images (smells, textures, sounds, sights, tastes)

·        names of relatives


2. Then incorporate these images into a poem.  As in the sample poems, each of your stanzas should begin, "I'm from…"






Use with Section B of the Lesson on Ethnic Discrimination


Questions to consider before reading the case study

·         What would it be like if you were forbidden to speak your language?

·         What if all the books written in your language were burned?

·         What if people who spoke your language were prohibited from having a job?

·         Can you think of a example in history when things like this happened?



Eritrea is a African country located in the northeast portion of the continent, a region known as the Horn of Africa.  Throughout history, Eritrea's location on the Red Sea has attracted traders and brought contact with other countries.  While some people came peacefully, others came and invaded Eritrea, occupying it as a colony. 

From 1890-1941, Italy ruled Ethiopia and Eritrea.  The British took control of Eritrea after they defeated the Italians in the region during World War II. 

In 1952, the British withdrew, and the United Nations created a federation[1] between Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Despite this arrangement, Eritrea retained some degree of autonomy (self-rule) and had its own parliament.



Eritrea under Ethiopian rule

During the 1960s, Ethiopia was ruled by Emperor Haile Sellassie, who had strong ties to the military.  His government violated the rights of the Eritreans granted by the UN agreement of 1952, and in 1962, Haile Sellassie dissolved the Eritrean parliament and declared Eritrea a province of Ethiopia, in part to gain access to Eritrea's ports.  This action was against the wishes of the Eritreans, who had voted to end the federation with Ethiopia and become an independent country. 

The Eritreans wanted to defend their land and gain independence, and in 1961 a war broke out between the Ethiopian army and the Eritrean force, the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF)[2].

During the war, Eritrean citizens experienced discrimination under the rule of Sellassie.  Kiflu, an Eritrean man now living in the United States, was a boy living in Eritrea at the time.  He recalls conditions for Eritreans during the war:

"Haile Sellassie forbade us to speak or write our language, Tigrinya.  Books written in Tigrinya were burned.  All Eritrean teachers were forced to teach Amharic (the language of Ethiopia), and lessons were conducted in Amharic.  If the teachers refused, they were fired.  When people have no jobs and no language, it means death to them."

To make matters worse, Ethiopia was suffering from a severe drought (lack of rain) and a famine (widespread hunger and shortage of food).  In part because he did not want negative attention from other countries, Haile Sellassie remained silent about the problem, and tens of thousands of people starved. 

In 1974, Haile Sellassie was arrested and replaced by a military leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam.  Kiflu recalls that life under his rule was also harsh. 

"If you were Eritrean, he'd shoot you.  He also burned our crops and houses and killed our animals.  If all Eritreans died, he would get the land.  He cared nothing for our people."

A Closer Look: Eritrea Under Italian Rule

The restrictions imposed by Ethiopia were not the first instance of discrimination against the Eritreans.  From 1922-1941, Italy established a system of discrimination similar to the apartheid system of South Africa[3].  Buses, theaters, and other public places were segregated, with the best facilities reserved for Italians.  Thousands of Eritreans were forced to leave their homes for resettlement in reserves far from where the Italians lives.  Non-Italians were prohibited from opening businesses or learning professional skills and instead did menial labor for Italians.  In short, Italy used its control over Eritrea's economic, political, and social institutions to establish wide-ranging systematic discrimination.

The Ethiopian army, supported by the then-Soviet Union, was much stronger, and thousands of Eritreans were killed.  Others, including Kiflu, fled with their families on camel to Sudan.  After a difficult and dangerous journey through the dessert, the Kiflu and his family reached a refugee camp where they stayed for over six years before emigrating to the United States.

In 1991, after thirty years of fighting, the Eritrean forces gained control of their capital, Asmara, and established a government that was recognized by Ethiopia.  In April of 1993, 99.8% of Eritreans voted for independence in a UN-monitored free and fair election.  Some Eritreans, including Kiflu, voted from their new homes in other countries.  Independence for Eritrea was officially declared on May 24, 1993. 







For use with Section C of the Lesson on Ethnic Discrimination


Activity 1: Personal Actions


            There are many things you can do to make your school or community more inclusive to people of all ethnic backgrounds.  Here are a few examples:

·        Learn more about the ethnic backgrounds of yourself and your classmates.   Have each student interview parents, grandparents, and other relatives to learn more about their family history.  Information can be compiled into a family tree or a collage that incorporates maps, images, language samples, and other artifacts you decide.  Create an exhibit of all the work in the school hallway or other special place, and invite other students to view the exhibit.

·        Document students' experiences with ethnic discrimination, and identify behaviors to create positive change.  Ask classmates to submit poems, essays, songs, or artwork about their personal experiences with discrimination.  Then compile these into a booklet, website, exhibit, or use the collected works as the basis of a poetry reading or other performance.  (For examples of student writing, see http://www.teenwriters.com/stories/discrimination.htm)  To focus on solutions, include examples of positive behaviors, framed in terms of what you can do.  Examples:

I can start examining my beliefs other ethnic backgrounds.  I can ask myself, "Is that really true, or could it be just a stereotype?"

I can learn more about different ethnic groups by reading a book, seeing a movie, attending an event, or making friends with people from different backgrounds.

I can stop telling jokes or making fun of people based on their ethnicity or nationality.

I can speak up when I hear people making fun of others based on their ethnicity or nationality.

I can say "I feel hurt when you say ________ ."


To help guide your work as you plan a project, ask your teacher for project planning tools.


The following websites provide additional ideas for on-line projects and collaboration with students around the world:

·        Intercultural E-mial Classroom Connections (IECC):  IECC helps classrooms link with partners in other cultures and countries for email pen-pal exchanges and other projects.  http://www.iecc.org

·        International Education and Resource Network (iEARN):  The vision and purpose of iEARN is to enable young people to undertake projects designed to make a meaningful contribution to the health and welfare of the planet and its people.  Schools must join the iEARN network to take part in the projects, which are described on the website.  http://www.iearn.org


Activity 2: Learn More About Ethnic Groups in Your Community

You will do this activity in three steps, labeled a., b., c.


a. Conduct research about your community.  Using census data or other sources of information, research answers to these questions.

- Which ethnic groups and nationalities are represented in our community? 

- When did these groups come to our community?

- What are some of the reasons these groups left their homes and came to our community?

- What is the process of adaptation like?

- What are some ways people from these groups have contributed to the community?

·        If possible, invite a representative from a relevant organization to discuss the experiences of immigrants in your country.  Remember - building community is everyone's responsibility, so be sure to ask what you can do to make mew people feel welcome.  Prepare interview questions ahead of time.  Examples:

- What are some reasons people come to this country?

- What are conditions like in the home country?  What factors created these conditions?

- Where do people go when they first arrive?

- Who provides assistance with learning about the new culture?

- How do people earn a living in their new country?  How is this different than what they did in their home country?

- What can we do to make newcomers feel welcome?


b. Present your findings.  Compile your work into a factsheet, website, brochure, or other document to help people learn about different ethnic groups in your community.  Make your display as informative as possible by including pictures, maps, statistics, charts, first-person accounts/interviews, samples of music, examples of traditional clothing or implements, and other artifacts you determine.


c. Reflect on your learning.  Using your journals, write responses to the following questions:

·        What have I learned about people in my community? 

·        How have my ideas changed from what I knew before?

·        What have I learned about how choice -- or lack of choice -- is a factor in why people leave their homes?  For example, can I differentiate between people who leave by choice vs. those who are forced to leave due to war, natural disaster, or economic troubles?



Activity 3: Learn more about United Nations Policies

You will do this activity in four steps, labeled a., b., c., and d.


a. Brainstorm policies to eliminate ethnic discrimination at the national or international level

            As you read in the case study, ethnic discrimination is carried out by some of the following means:

·        prohibiting people from speaking or writing their language

·        prohibiting children from learning in the language at school

·        destroying libraries, churches, monuments, or other culturally significant places

·        prohibiting people from owning land, businesses, or other property

·        excluding people from participation in political processes, such as voting


Imagine that you are part of an international commission to eliminate and prevent ethnic discrimination at the international level.  What policies would you make?  Who would these policies apply to?  What would you do to enforce them?  Write your ideas below:


Policies I would create to eliminate or prevent ethnic discrimination:







These policies would apply to…(individuals? governments? businesses? others?)



I would enforce these policies by…









b. Review policies created by the United Nations

The United Nations has developed several documents to address ethnic discrimination, including the Declaration of the Rights of People Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities  Adopted by General Assembly resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992 Read the following excerpt from this document, or view the full text on-line: (http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/d_minori.htm). 


·        Persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (hereinafter referred to as persons belonging to minorities) have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, and to use their own language, in private and in public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination.

·        Persons belonging to minorities have the right to establish and maintain their own associations.

·        States should take appropriate measures so that, wherever possible, persons belonging to minorities may have adequate opportunities to learn their mother tongue or to have instruction in their mother tongue.

·        States should, where appropriate, take measures in the field of education, in order to encourage knowledge of the history, traditions, language and culture of the minorities existing within their territory.  Persons belonging to minorities should have adequate opportunities to gain knowledge of the society as a whole.

·        States should consider appropriate measures so that persons belonging to minorities may participate fully in the economic progress and development in their country.


c. Discuss  or write responses to the following questions:

·        What are the key ideas of the UN Declaration?


·        How is this policy is similar or different than the policies you created?


d. Find out what your country is doing to support this Declaration.

Remember that the United Nations is an organization of governments; it is not a government itself.  Therefore, it is up to each individual country to carry out UN Declarations.  Declarations are not laws; they are general statements that set forth a standard of conduct. 

·        What actions is your country taking to uphold the Declaration? For example, have any of the Declaration's articles been included in any national laws? If so, which ones?


Analyzing the case study


You will use one or more of the strategies described below to identify 

·         influences on the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia

·         the impacts of discrimination

·         responses to the conflict


Strategy 1.  Write directly on the text to identify key information.

a. Identifying causes:

·        Underline text that describes historical influences on the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

·        Using another colour or a double line, underline text that describes political factors that added to the conflict.

·        Using another colour or a triple line, underline text that describes economic factors that added to the conflict.

b. Identifying impacts of discrimination

·        Circle text that describes economic impacts of discrimination (discrimination as it relates to property, owning land, earning a living, or other economic factors).

·        Using another colour, circle text that describes cultural impacts of discrimination (discrimination as it relates to language, schooling, or other cultural factors).

c. Identifying responses

·        Put a dotted line under text that describes responses to the conflict.


Strategy 2.  Organize information in a table.

Causes and Influencing Factors

Impacts of Discrimination

Responses to the conflict



















Strategy 3.  Create a timeline of events in the area. Include the following:

·         Ethiopian and Eritrean rule under Italy

·         Ethiopian and Eritrean rule under Britain

·         the creation of the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia

·         the federation between Eritrea and Ethiopia created by the UN

·         the end of the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia

·         the dissolution of the Eritrean parliament by Haile Sellassie

·         the beginning of the war between Eritrean and Ethiopia

·         the arrest of Haile Sellassie

·         the declaration of Eritrea as an independent country

·         the votes for independence by Eritreans


Strategy 4.  Create a concept map of the case study.  Use the following diagram to help you get started, or create your own:
























Strategy 5.  Respond to the following questions.

a. How did Eritrea's location affect its interactions with other countries?

b. How could having access to water affect a country's economy?

c. Describe some of the actions that led up to the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

d. How were the Eritreans' culture and language affected by the conflict?  Provide examples.

e. How were the Eritreans' ability to make a living affected by the conflict?  Provide examples.

f. Describe some similarities between the actions of the Italians and the Ethiopians against the Eritreans.

g. What were some ways Eritreans responded to the conflict?

h. Some people are able to choose where they want to live, while others are forced from their homes.  What was the situation for Kiflu?  What is the situation for your family?

i. What can you learn from Kiflu's story to help you understand people in your country who are from a different place?


[1]  Through the federation, Eritrea and Ethiopia were joined but did not become a single country.

[2] In the mid 1960s, a reformist group broke away from the ELF and formed the Popular Liberation Forces, which became the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) in 1977.  It was the EPLF which finally won the struggle against Ethiopia.

[3]  For more information on apartheid, see the lesson on race.