Maida Agić(NGO “Life with Down’s Syndrome”), Irma Pašić (school head assistant) and Azra Saković Colović(English teachers) from Ilidža, Sarajevo, went to the Summer Academy in Montenegro with the expectation of learning something new and passing that knowledge on to their colleagues.
In the event, they learned far more than they could have expected. “The experience of the Summer Academy completely changed our perspective on human rights and the role of schools in educating new generations on their rights”, they say.
So, with the action plan devised in Montenegro, the team began arranging workshops and activities on learning styles and teaching methods for human rights education for others at their school.
Human rights in school subjects
There was some scepticism at first, but within a short time most of their colleagues had understood and were keen to be involved. An Art teacher said, “I had doubts when I heard that we would learn more on how to incorporate human rights education into the curriculum of every subject. I found that amusing - I asked myself what have art lessons to do with it? But, after the presentations and workshops, I realised there is a lot of stuff I can discuss with my students during art classes. I am continuing with my research on human rights in art.”
The Council of Europe manuals – Compass, Compasito and Living in Democracy - were particularly sarajevo-hre2popular: “They found the Council of Europe manuals very useful and now they are in our school library in a special section for ‘Democracy and Human Rights’, so they can use them to enrich their lessons.”
At the wider school level, letter boxes were installed where school employees, students and parents can pass on comments, suggestions and criticisms anonymously. Students are encouraged to share their ideas for improving school life by means of a questionnaire – resulting in new projects for school management and additions to the annual school plan.
A special event was organised for students to present topics which were important to them – which included, among other things, sign-language and the cultural traditions of the Roma.
The team is now planning to train teachers from neighbouring schools, through monthly workshops and team-building activities in their school. They are also planning a student visit to the municipality’s mayor, where students can ask questions and present their own ideas on community issues.
What is the secret of their success? One thing that has certainly helped has been their whole-school approach to training. Including representatives from different groups in their team – such as school management, teaching staff and the parents’ council – has contributed greatly towards this.