A new online toolkit is available to help teachers and principals create respectful school learning environments through human rights education.
Developed by the Alberta Teachers’ Association in collaboration with various partners, the Respectful Schools Online Toolkit provides curriculum-related activities, lesson plans and resources that help teachers demonstrate concepts like fairness, equity and inclusion.
“The Respectful Schools Online Toolkit offers all Albertans an opportunity to engage with the spirit of human rights, and to make diversity, equity and human rights a part of daily conversations,” said teacher Jessica Scalzo, the project’s content manager.
The toolkit was developed due to a 2015 amendment to the School Act that added a requirement that school boards, students and parents contribute to a “welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging.”
Online since late January, the toolkit highlights and serves three distinct audiences — parents and community, teachers and principals, and education leaders. It contains resources, articles and real-world best practices related to human rights and human rights education.
“The toolkit makes it easy for schools, families, communities and leadership to work together to make schools and communities welcoming, caring, respectful and safe,” Scalzo said.
She is confident the toolkit will help users bridge information with engagement and build their capacity in the field of human rights. Illustrating her point, she shared a quote from activist, philosopher and educator Daisaku Ikeda.
“A commitment to human rights cannot be fostered simply through the transmission of knowledge. Action and experience play a crucial role in the learning process.”
Development of the toolkit was made possible through a grant from the Government of Alberta and the collaborative efforts of the six key education stakeholders that formed the Respectful Schools Collaborative Group Project:
• Alberta Education
• Alberta School Boards Association
• Alberta School Councils Association
• Alberta Teachers’ Association
• Association for Independent Schools and Colleges
• College of Alberta School Superintendents
• Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities ❚
Humans critical to human rights
An example of the lessons that are available in the Respectful Schools Online Toolkit is the following excerpt from the Story of Human Rights, a 10-minute video produced by Youth for Human Rights. The video explains the critical role that humans play in making human rights a reality.
“Those who fight today, against torture, poverty and discrimination, are not giants or super heroes, they’re people. Kids, mothers, fathers, teachers. Free-thinking individuals who refuse to be silent, who realize that human rights are not a history lesson, they’re not words on a page, they’re not speeches or commercials or PR campaigns. They are the choices we make every day as human beings. They are the responsibility we all share to respect each other, to help each other and to protect those in need.”
Visit the Human Rights Education/History section of the Respectful Schools Toolkit to watch the full Story of Human Rights video.