This is an adaptation from the original version.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Starting Points for Teachers

Human rights and your class or your school

An activity to put your own school under the human rights microscope

Taking the Human Rights Temperature of Your School

Participants evaluate their school's human rights climate using criteria derived from the ECHR (*1). The subsequent discussion builds towards identifying areas of particular concern and developing an action plan to begin addressing them. This activity is ambitious and may require support and co-operation from other staff in the school.

1. Have participants evaluate their school's human rights climate, i.e. take its "temperature", by completing the survey questionnaire below.

2. Prepare for class discussion by creating a 1-4 rating scale on a chalkboard or large piece of paper. Then ask participants to call out responses to each item.
IMPORTANT: Participants might not wish to make their own responses public. Consider collecting the questionnaires and redistributing them so that participant anonymity can be assured.

3. Discuss the findings from the survey, drawing on the following questions to move from analysis and evaluation to the development of an action plan.
a. In which areas does your school appear to be adhering to or promoting human rights principles?
b. In which areas do there seem to be human rights problems? Which of these are of particular concern to you?
d. Have you or any of your fellow community contributed in any way to the construction and perpetuation of the existing climate? (e.g. by acting in certain ways or by not acting in certain ways - ignoring abuses or not reporting incidents)
e. Were those completing the questionnaire representative of the population of the school? Would you expect different results from a different group of people
f. What needs to be done to improve the human rights climate in your school? What action(s) can you and your group take to create a more humane and just environment where human rights values are promoted and human rights behaviours practised?

4. Review questionnaire item number 12, stressing the importance of assuming responsibility and acting accordingly. Then, as a group, think about what the group might do to improve the human rights situation. Decide on a short list of options for action. Thoroughly debate and discuss the short list before taking any decision regarding action to be taken.



The questions below are written in the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols. (The relevant articles are included in brackets in each statement.) Some of these issues relate more directly to the ECHR than others. All of these questions are related to the fundamental human right to education found in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. It asserts:

Everyone has the right to education... Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Obviously more questions are needed and follow-up questioning during the discussion will enrich the assessment.
Directions: Read each statement and assess how accurately it describes your school community in the blank next to it. (Keep in mind all members of your school: students, teachers, administrators, other staff. ) At the end, total up your score to determine your overall assessment score for your school.

1 - no/never 2 - rarely 3 - often 4 - yes/always

____ 1. My school is a place where students are safe and secure. (Art. 2 & 3)

____ 2. Members of the school community are not discriminated against because of their life style choices, such as manner of dress, associating with certain people, and non-school activities. (Art. 14; Protocol No 12)

____ 3. My school provides equal access, resources and activities for all individuals. (Art. 14; Protocol No 12)

____ 4. Members of my school community will oppose discriminatory or demeaning actions, materials, or remarks in the school. (Art. 2, 9, Art. 14; Protocol No 12)

____ 5. When conflicts arise, we try to resolve them in non- violent and collaborative ways. (Art. 2, 3,)

____ 6. In matters related to discipline (including suspension and expulsion), all persons are assured of fair, impartial treatment in the determination of guilt and assignment of punishment. (Art. 6)

____ 7. A person accused of wrongdoing is presumed innocent until proved guilty. (Art. 6 )

____ 8. My personal space and possessions are respected. (Art. 8; Art. 1, Protocol No. 1)

____ 9. My school community welcomes students, teachers, administrators, and staff from diverse backgrounds and cultures (Art. 1, 9, 10, 14; Protocol No 12)

____ 10. Members of my school have the opportunity to participate (individually and through associations) in democratic decision-making processes to develop school policies and rules. (Art. 11, Art 3 Protocol No. 1)

____ 11. Members of my school community have adequate time for rest during the school day and work reasonable hours under fair work conditions. (Art. 4)

____ 12. I take responsibility in my school for ensuring that other individuals do not discriminate and that they behave in ways that promote the safety and well-being of my school community. (Art. 1 & 29)



Adapted from: D. Shiman & K. Rudelius-Palmer, Economic and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective (Minneapolis: Human Rights Resource Center, University of Minnesota, 1999)

Search WWW Search

Copyright 1997-2006 Human Rights USA