20/10/2005

Human rights central to citizenship - Minister

Human rights are central to citizenship and have an important role to play in moving Northern Ireland towards an equal, just and peaceful future.

That was the message from Education Minister, Angela Smith, at today's cross-border conference on Human Rights Education in Dublin.

Speaking to the invited audience of teachers, teacher trainers, policy makers and those involved in developing curricula from both sides of the border, the Minister said: "The new curriculum has an underpinning value of equality, justice and human rights to encourage pupils to respect their rights and responsibilities and the rights and responsibilities of others.

"The new curriculum will place a greater emphasis on providing young people with the skills and knowledge they need for life beyond the classroom and that citizenship, including human rights education, will be a key element of the revised statutory curriculum."

The Minister went on to explain the new approach to the curriculum: "By highlighting skills as well as knowledge we are drawing a direct line between the young people in our classrooms and their future roles as employers and employees, voters and volunteers, parents and even teachers," she said.

"The old approach focused too much on simply giving students information and imparting knowledge and facts we felt they needed to know. The new curriculum will do this but also give young people the space to explore, to inquire, to develop themselves. I believe this vision is empowering and exciting both for teachers and for young people."

Thursday's conference was hosted by the Irish Human Rights Commission, the Northern Irish Human Rights Commission and the 'Lift Off' cross-border Primary Human Rights Education initiative.

(MB/SP)

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