Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
The initiative is a project of the Madurai-based Institute of Human Rights Education (IHRE) to spread human rights education in schools and colleges during the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education.
Under a phased programme, the IHRE, which has many educationists, including five former Vice-Chancellors and one present Vice-Chancellor on the advisory committee, has been introducing HRE in school and college curriculum since 1997, when the scheme was launched in Chennai, covering Standard IX students in nine schools. From 2002, 258 Adi Dravidar welfare schools were included in the programme, with the objective of making the children from oppressed sections aware of their rights. Students of these schools were introduced to HRE last year and the programme has now been extended to the Standard VII. So far, the HRE initiative has covered 1.02 lakh students in 794 schools in the State. The Lady Doak College here is the first institution of higher learning in the country which introduced HRE as a compulsory course for undergraduate students in 2000, with IHRE assistance. The Holy Cross College, Tiruchi, offers a postgraduate course on Human Rights under a memorandum of understanding signed with the IHRE.
The Joint Director of IHRE, I. Devasahayam, says the response from both teachers and children in Adi Dravidar welfare schools has been positive. The HR module prepared by the IHRE for Standard VI children lays stress on human dignity, values, communal amity and equality. The IHRE has completed preparation of a new module for Standard VII students. A series of orientation programmes is to be held throughout the State in July for teachers on syllabus formation. The HRE programme in Adi Dravidar schools has been praised by the NHRC and the National SC/ST Commission, according to Henri Tiphagne, Director, People's Watch - Tamil Nadu, which runs the IHRE. The initiative has achieved good results in terms of creating human rights awareness at the grass roots and shown signs of becoming a model for the country. If the programme is implemented in all Government schools, it would signal a pioneering effort on the part of Tamil Nadu to spread human rights education before 2004, when the UN Decade for Human Rights Education comes to a close, says Mr. Tiphagne.
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