08 December 2011

Art helps children to learn about human rights issues

Human rights and art prize winners

Students at three primary schools have been discovering about human rights issues through art as part of a unique education initiative led by academics at the University of Essex.

The Arts and Human Rights in Education project was developed by Dr Aoife Daly, from the Human Rights Centre and School of Law at Essex, and Dr Lisa Wade from the School of Philosophy and Art History, with the support of Lucy Murray from the Outreach team.

The schools taking part were Willow Brook Primary School and St Andrew’s Junior School in Colchester and Millfields Primary School in Wivenhoe.

Dr Daly and Dr Wade used photos, paintings and fun activities to encourage the children to think about ways in which human rights have been violated in the past, how attitudes have been changed and how best to protect human rights in the future.

The initiative culminated with an art competition based around the theme of human rights with a prize-presentation and exhibition at the University during Human Rights Week.

Prize-winners from each school were Callie-Michelle Reynolds from Willow Brook, Lula Levoi from Millfields and Shayma Hafidi from St Andrew’s. Many students were also highly commended and all received certificates due to the high standard of work produced.

Aaron Battersby, Year 6 teacher and deputy head teacher at Millfields, said: “The children really enjoyed learning about human rights. The classes were delivered in a fun, interactive way and I was impressed with their art works. They obviously learned a great deal.”

Dr Daly said: “By using the medium of art we encouraged children to think about human rights such as the right to be heard (Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) and the right to life, survival and development (Article 2 of the Convention).

“The children responded with wonderful ideas and enthusiasm for looking at the themes of human rights.

“The project seeks to educate children about rights through art and serves as a strong means to engage local children in university activities. We hope this initiative will be held on an annual basis.”

Our picture shows, from left to right, Shayma Hafidi, Lula Levoi and Callie-Michelle Reynolds.

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