By Catherine Ntabadde
A child runs after another child, pushes him down to the ground, grabs his break money and takes off with it. The aggressor is a well known school bully.
Very few students view bullying as an abuse of human rights and yet it is. This is why it is very important that Human Rights and Citizenship Education is taught in schools. right from primary level.
The British Council Uganda (BCU) has come out as a strong advocate for the teaching of integrating the subject in the school curriculum.
Whereas some components of human rights and citizenship (HR&C) are taught in Political Education, Christian Religious Education (CRE) and Islamic Religious Education (IRE), it is not enough.
BCU is working together with secondary school teachers and headteachers, Ministry of Education and Sports and National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC).
On September 30, 2003 BCU organised a human rights and citizenship education training workshop for secondary school headteachers and teachers.
The workshop which took place at Grand Imperial Kampala, was also attended by NCDC and ministry of education officials. This is in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights which started in 1994 and ends in 2004.
â€œHuman rights and citizenship education (HR&CE) are essential areas for students to be able to lead autonomous lives in future.
â€œThe present HR&C education in the secondary education curriculum is in political education, religious education, history and general paper,â€ observed Mary Ocheng, a lecturer of curriculum, teaching and media, Makerere University.
She, however, said the government has not picked up HR&CE.
â€œThe government should take it up so that we get backing from them. NCDC needs a policy to get a legal backing if they are to include HR&C in the curriculum,â€ Ocheng added.
Ocheng added that there is need for students to know their rights and responsibilities so as to relate to one another.
According to Dorah Kabuye, a commissioner at Uganda Human Rights Commission there is need and justification for a strong presence of HR&C education in the secondary school curriculum for all students.
â€œThere is a notion being floated that we should keep only the old subjects on the curriculum.
The curriculum is supposed to grow and develop in order to reflect the society needs. HR& C education is one of the important subjects worldwide and there is no way Uganda can afford to live in isolation,â€ she said.
Kabuye added that the need and justification of HR&C education has both international and national justification.
Irene Naiga, BCUâ€™s programme officer, said HR&C education project will introduce practical based human rights education material into 15 pilot schools in Uganda.
She told Education Vision that the 15 secondary schools (private and government) are among the so many schools BCU works with on various education programmes.
â€œTeaching materials will be developed in consultation with NCDC, ministry of education and sport, teacher education colleges, students and other relevant stakeholders. Human rights will be incorporated into political education module and also across curricula,â€ she said.
Naiga said the project has already kicked off and materials are yet to be developed while teachers will undergo relevant training.
Among the participating schools are, Luzira SS, Kings College Budo, St. Maryâ€™s College Kisubi, Baptist High School, St. Lawrence Citizens High School, Nateete Muslim High, Makerere College School, Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Gerald Kaggwa, Mengo SS, Bethany High School and Nabisunsa Girls.
Participants at the one-day workshop, however, argued whether HR&C should be taught formally or informally. They also wondered whether teachers were not being over loaded.
â€œIt is cheaper and much easier to implement it formally. It is something students and teachers can catch on if it is well organised. You can get positive results,â€ Olive Kyohere, headteacher Luzira SS said.