Article 26: Right to Education
Activist: Education for Freedom

ARTICLE 26:
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all Nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

After more than twenty years of armed conflict under the dictatorship of President Marcos, on the 26th of February, 1986, the People's Power Revolution finally forced the Marcos family to flee the Philippines. The Filipino people were left to rebuild their country, but they soon found that changing the corrupt and abusive structures that remained was an even more difficult challenge. Despite the new governmentıs repeated assurances to protect human rights, serious violations were reported with disturbing regularity... perhaps the concept of human rights remained vague to many Filipinos, or most were unaware of their ability to assert these rights. A new generation of human rights activists needed to be educated. Only when people understood their rights could they stand up for them.

Education for Freedom was organized to promote human rights at every level of society, beginning with the Filipino youth.

Human rights should be a part of not just the law, but everybody's lifestyle. By working to promote awareness, Education for Freedom hopes not only to respond to human rights violations, but to stop them from happening in the first place.

The Filipino people were under the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos for over twenty years. During this time, hundreds of human rights activists, student leaders, church workers, trade unionists and peasants were killed in extrajudicial executions or simply "disappeared." Tens of thousands became internal refugees, forced to flee their homes amidst the armed conflict between government forces, the New People's Army and local vigilante groups. Young children were most often the victims of a war in which they were innocent.

On the 26th of February 1986, the People's Power revolution forced the Marcos family to flee the country, yet the changing of corruptive and abusive structures that remained was the more difficult challenge. Despite repeated assurances by the new government of its commitment to protect human rights, serious violations were reported at disturbing regularity, perhaps because the concept of human rights remained vague to many Filipinos, or most were powerless to assert it.

A new generation of human rights activists needed education. Because democracy had been absent for two decades, it had to be re-taught, and non-violence introduced as an alternative means of change. Only when people know their rights can they stand up for them.

This is the story of Mardi Mapa-Suplido, one of the founders of Education for Freedom:

I was sitting with my classmates on the third floor of the University of the Philippines, intently listening to our Professor Ed Garcia analyze the social ills confronting our society at that time, when three armed men barged into the classroom, and asked "Where is Mr. Ed Garcia?" Upon seeing him across the room, they immediately grabbed both his arms and dragged him out the room. We were too shocked to do anything the first few seconds. Until a classmate shouted "Sir, do you have a warrant of arrest?" and we followed our professor out the room. A few steps out the corridor, Professor Garcia turned back and the three men in uniform broke out in laughter. We were told to go back to our seats - Professor Garcia had staged the whole drama.

Though I had often heard of the militarization, I had never really personally experienced being violated. I was never a victim, so I never really cared. When I entered the university, political student leaders were being arrested, and many had disappeared. But I was not a victim; my family was never affected. So I didn't care. I was concerned simply about my own right to choose, to decide the course I wanted to take, to go out with friends of my choice, and live the way I pleased.

My story was one of neither torture nor poverty. It is a sad story, because like many other young people around the world today, I wasn't a victim, so I couldn't care less. It is a story as sad as a mountain girl my age killed because of her tribal background. Or that young student leader, jailed and raped because of her idealism. Our stories are actually one - she is persecuted because I couldn't care enough.

Her hope in finding justice or peace is connected to my struggle for justice and peace. I learned that I needed to speak, for there are thousands who cannot. I needed to care, for her life depends on mine. So with my friends Peter Perfecto and Gina Putong, we joined up with Professor Ed of Amnesty International Philippines to form its human rights education project.

Believing that protection of rights begins with understanding those rights, we set out to promote human rights education at every level of society, beginning with the Filipino youth, those found in schools and in communities, especially those in areas where economic and political rights are violated. We called it Education for Freedom. We wanted a program where young people worked for and with young people. In order that we increase interest, concern and involvement among fellow youth, our efforts and approaches had to first be Filipino, and it had to be creative. We sought to discover inexpensive, practical and effective methods of awakening individuals, groups, peoples and governments.

School principals we approached would initially turn us away upon hearing the words "human rights."

There existed a strong "red scare" anti-Communist sentiment that labeled related issues such as human rights as radical and subversive that we had to break. So we felt we had to start by using colourful posters and designs that didn't show gory pictures of victims of violations.

On the island of Negros where armed conflict was at its worst, our community youth joined the Mardi Gras dance parade at its annual Masskara festival. Hundreds of our youth paraded down the city's streets depicting people's rights through dance and song. We also colourfully painted the Universal Declaration of Human Right's articles on blank walls of the city.

Education for Freedom's aim was to empower fellow Filipinos to take effective action to fully realize their rights through the creative and meaningful education. It was to develop in young people a respect for human dignity to enable them to actively participate in working for a society that is just and human.

LESSON FOR ARTICLE 26: THE RIGHT TO KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

ACTIVITY I: TAKING THE HUMAN RIGHTS TEMPERATURE OF YOUR SCHOOL (variable)

1. Discuss the Right to Know Your Human Rights:

a) Read aloud the full text of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which expresses the right to education. Ask students some of these questions:

  • What does this Article suggest should be the goal and content of education?
  • Who decides what subjects you study in your school?
  • Do you learn about human rights in school? At what age? In which subjects?
  • Education for Freedom wanted to educate Filipinos "to enable them to actively participate in working for a society that is just and human." Do you learn about this kind of active participation at your school?
  • Why might a government want its citizens to learn about human rights? Why might it not want citizens to learn about human rights?
  • What groups of people in your community need to learn about human rights?

2. Taking the "Human Rights Temperature of the School:

a) Point out that UDHR Article 26 states that education should be "directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms." Explain that this activity will attempt to find out to what extent this class or this school creates an environment where respect for these rights can flourish.

b) Ask students to evaluate their school's human rights climate, i.e., take its "temperature", by completing the survey below Explain that each member of the class will fill out a form that asks questions about their school. They should answer according to their personal opinion without discussing the questions with others.

c) Point out that the relevant articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are given after each question.

d) Give the class a questionnaire and allow them time to complete it.

TAKING THE HUMAN RIGHTS TEMPERATURE OF YOUR SCHOOL

Directions: Read each statement and evaluate how accurately it describes your school community. Keep in mind all members of your school: students, teachers, administrators, staff. Add up your score to determine the overall assessment for your school.

RATING SCALE:

  1. Never (No/False)
  2. Rarely
  3. Often
  4. Always
  5. Don't know (No/False) (Yes/True)

1. __ Members of the school community are not discriminated against because of their race, sex, family background, disability, religion or life style. (UDHR Articles 2, 16; CRC Articles 2, 23)

2. __ My school is a place where I am safe and secure. (UDHR Articles 3, 5; CRC Articles 6, 37)

3. __ All students receive equal information and encouragement about academic and career opportunities. (UDHR Articles 2, 26; CRC Articles 2, 29)

4. __ My school provides equal access, resources, activities and accommodations for everyone. (UDHR Articles 2, 7; CRC Articles 2)

5. __ Members of my school community will oppose discriminatory actions, materials or words in the school. (UDHR Articles 2, 3, 7, 28, 29; CRC Articles 2, 3, 6, 30)

6. __ When someone violates the rights of another person, the violator is helped to learn how to change her/his behavior. (UDHR Article 26; CRC Articles 28, 29)

7. __ Members of my school community care about my full human as well as academic development and try to help me when I am in need. (UDHR Articles 3, 22, 26, 29; CRC Articles 3, 6, 27, 28, 29, 31)

8. __ When conflicts arise, we try to resolve them through non-violent and collaborative ways. (UDHR Articles 3, 28; CRC Articles 3, 13, 19, 29, 37)

9. __ The school has policies and procedures regarding discrimination and uses them when incidents occur. (UDHR Articles 3, 7; CRC Articles 3, 29)

10. __In matters related to discipline, everyone is assured of fair, impartial treatment in the determination of guilt and assignment of punishment. (UDHR Articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 CRC Articles 28, 40)

11. __No one in our school is subjected to degrading treatment or punishment. (UDHR Article 5; CRC Articles 13, 16,19, 28)

12. __Someone accused of wrong doing is presumed innocent until proven guilty. (UDHR Articles 11; CRC Articles 16, 28, 40)

13. __My personal space and possessions are respected. (UDHR Articles 12, 17; CRC Article 16)

14. __My school community welcomes students, teachers, administrators and staff from diverse backgrounds and cultures, including people not born in this country. (UDHR Articles 2, 6, 13, 14, 15; CRC Articles 2, 29, 30, 31)

15. __I have the liberty to express my beliefs and ideas without fear of discrimination. (UDHR Articles 19; CRC Articles 13. 14)

16. __ Members of my school can produce and disseminate publications without fear of censorship or punishment. (UDHR Article 19; CRC Articles 13)

17. __Diverse perspectives (e.g., gender. race/ethnicity, ideological) are represented in courses, textbooks, assemblies, libraries and classroom instruction (UDHR Articles 2, 19. 27; CRC Articles 17, 29, 30)

18. __I have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities at the school and my cultural identity, language and values are respected (UDHR Articles 19. 27, 28; CRC Articles 29, 30, 31)

19. __Members of my school have the opportunity to participate in democratic decision making to develop school policies and rules. (UDHR Articles 20, 21, 23; CRC Articles 13, 15)

20. __ Members of my school have the right to form associations within the school to advocate for their rights or the rights of others. (UDHR Articles 19. 20, 23; CRC Article 15)

21. __Members of my school encourage each other to learn about societal and global problems related to justice, ecology, poverty and peace. (UDHR Preamble, Articles 26, 29; CRC Article 29)

22. __ Members of my school encourage each other to organize and take action to address problems related to justice, ecology, poverty and peace. (UDHR Preamble, Articles 20, 29; CRC Article 29)

23. __Members of my school community are able to take adequate rest/recess time during the school day and work reasonable hours under fair work conditions (UDHR Articles 23, 24; CRC Articles 31, 32)

24. __Employees in my school are paid enough to have a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of themselves and their families. (UDHR Articles 22, 25; CRC Article 27)

25. __ I take responsibility in my school to ensure that people do not discriminate against others. (UDHR Articles 1, 29; CRC Article 29)

TEMPERATURE POSSIBLE = 100 HUMAN RIGHTS DEGREES
YOUR SCHOOL'S TEMPERATURE = ______ HUMAN RIGHTS DEGREES

3. When students have completed the questionnaire, record and discuss the results:

  • In which areas does your school seem to be promoting human rights principles?
  • In which areas do there seem to be human rights problems?
  • How do you explain the existence of such problematic conditions? Are they related to discrimination? To participation in decision-making? Who benefits and who loses/suffers from these human rights violations?
  • Have you or any other members of the community contributed to the existing climate, either to improve or to worsen it?
  • What needs to be done to improve the human rights climate in your school? Develop an action plan as a class, identifying goals, strategies and responsibilities.

Source: Written by David A. Shiman and Kristi Rudelius-Palmer in Economic and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective, by David A. Shiman (Human Rights Resource Center, University Of Minnesota, 1999).

ACTIVITY II: CREATIVE METHODS OF EDUCATION (1 HOUR)

1. Organize the Activity: Remind the class of Mardi's explanation: "We sought to discover inexpensive, practical and effective methods of awakening individuals, groups, peoples and governments." Invite the class to follow Mardi's creative example to improve the understanding of human rights, especially the UDHR and/or the CRC in your community.

  • Choose your audience (e.g., a kindergarten, a senior-citizen's center, a women's organization, a religious group).
  • Then divide the class into small groups and assign each the task of planning a creative way to present articles of the UDHR or CRC (e.g., skits, posters, parades, songs, installations, "advertisements").
  • Give the class time to prepare. You may wish to assign each group a specific Article of the UDHR or CRC.

2. Make the Presentations: Ask each group to make its presentation. You might develop a game format, where other students must which article is being presented, or a "talent show" format.
Note: If possible arrange for the class to make these presentations to a selected audience. Children in elementary or middle school make a most receptive audience!

GOING FURTHER

1. Debate Human Rights Education: Divide the class into small groups to prepare arguments for and against one of these statements, using articles of the UDHR and/or the CRC as supporting evidence:

Human rights education is a kind of political propaganda and should not be taught in school.

Human rights education is a human right.

The goals and strategies of Education for Freedom, to empower people to take effective action to fully realize their, would not work in this community.

Young people have a right to participate in working to make their communities more just and humane.

2. A Survey of Human Rights Knowledge: A recent survey showed that 93% of people in the United States could not identify the UDHR. Have the class prepare a survey to find out how much people in their school and/or community know about human rights.

  • Decide what segment of society you want to examine (e.g., school children, parents, teachers, elected officials).
  • Develop a short series of questions designed to test information and understanding of human rights.
  • Develop a systematic and objective method for conducting your survey.
  • Write up your results in a report and/or article for publication.

3. Supporting The UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1994-2003):

a) Have students find out about this worldwide effort to further the understanding of human rights.

b) If your country is supporting the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, write those in charge of Decade activities to express your approval and to find out how you can participate in these efforts.

c) If your country is not supporting the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, write to the Ministry of Education to urge its participation. Use some of the arguments for human rights education developed in this lesson. Also consider writing to newspapers and other publications to urge your country's participation.

4. Activism for Human Rights Education: Find out if any nongovernmental organizations (e.g., youth groups, teacher's associations, human rights organizations) or individuals in your community, region, or country are, like Education for Freedom, working to inform people about their human rights.

  • Find out about their activities, techniques, materials.
  • Do you consider their efforts to be successful?
  • Invite a human rights educator to speak to the class. (1) If organizations are working for human rights education in your community, contact them and offer to help with their efforts. (2) Urge organizations that work for social justice to include human rights education as part of their activities and volunteer to help.

5. Educating Your Community about Human Rights: Follow up the creative ideas in Activity 2 above: encourage students to find ways to teach others in the community about human rights. Young people have proven effective educators for both adults and younger children. Help students select appropriate occasions and audiences. You might also draw on the survey results from Research activity #1 to select an audience. Consider using relevant occasions like International Children's Day, International Human rights Day, December 10, or UN Day, October 24. (See Annex B for a calendar of annual human rights events)

TAKING ACTION ON ARTICLE 26

1. Survey on Human Rights Knowledge: A recent survey showed that 93% of people in the United States could not identify the UDHR. Prepare a survey to find out how much people in their school and/or community know about human rights. · Decide what segment of society you want to examine (e.g., school children, parents, teachers, elected officials). · Develop a short series of questions designed to test information and understanding of human rights. · Develop a systematic and objective method for conducting your survey. · Write up your results in a report and/or article for publication.

2. Support the UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1994-2003):

a) Find out about this worldwide effort to further the understanding of human rights.

b) If your country is supporting the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, write those in charge of Decade activities to express your approval and to find out how you can participate in these efforts.

c) If your country is not supporting the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, write to the Ministry of Education to urge its participation. Use some of the arguments for human rights education developed in this lesson. Also consider writing to newspapers and other publications to urge your country's participation.

3. Support Human Rights Education:

a) Find out if any nongovernmental organizations (e.g., youth groups, teacher's associations, human rights organizations) or individuals in your community, region, or country are, like Education for Freedom, working to inform people about their human rights.

  • Find out about their activities, techniques, materials.
  • Do you consider their efforts to be successful?
  • Invite a human rights educator to speak to the class.

b) If organizations are working for human rights education in your community, contact them and offer to help with their efforts.

c) Urge organizations that work for social justice to include human rights education as part of their activities and volunteer to help.

4. Become a Human Rights Educator: Follow up the creative ideas in this lesson: find ways to teach others in the community about human rights. Young people have proven effective educators for both adults and younger children. Chose the best occasions and audiences. You might also draw on the survey results from Research activity #1 to select an audience. Consider using relevant occasions like International Children's Day, International Human rights Day, December 10, or UN Day, October 24. (See Annex B for a calendar of annual human rights events)