By Kristi Çina
Human Rights 101 was conceived as an alternative to the numerous conferences held on the occasion of the International Day of Human Rights (10th of December). Instead of a single day, we devoted a full week filled with six lessons in four schools in two different cities. Two groups of volunteers were formed and worked on 2 separate presentations differing on the way the subject was approached. We believe that this freedom stimulates originality and creativity among the working groups, and provides the flexibility necessary to adapt the lesson to different contexts.
The group of volunteers, who held lectures at “Celi Light” and “Dituria” in Lushnja, prepared an interactive lesson in the form of a conversation. Starting from simple questions on the positive characteristics of each human being, on dignity, on how these elements can be protected, as well as exchanging answers and different opinions under the coordination of the volunteers, students were able to identify the key elements of human rights and understand why dignity is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace. The students were divided into four groups. Two of them addressed in a more direct way the topic of human rights while the other two groups addressed the topic of education as a necessity or as a luxury. After the presentation of the results, students were asked to comment on a statement by Eleanor Roosevelt, head of the UN Commission on Human Rights. The discussion continued with a presentation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and an introduction to some basic concepts of law.
The lectures in the city of Korça were intended as a combination of a typical high school lesson and a university lecture. Therefore senior year students were considered as the ideal audience. During the lectures, the participants talked about dignity and characteristics and evolution of the various declarations of human rights. It was explained how these rights arise from the individualistic perception of society and a change in the political relation between the citizen and the state. The student’s perception was tested through two games: 1) A riddle on power and the importance of choice; 2) a game which required the transformation of a given word (in this case a specific right written by a student) into an image (a simple drawing that evokes this right) by a second student, and the subsequent transformation of this image into a word (right) by a third student. The lectures aimed at being thought-provoking, encouraging a reflection on this subject.
After confronting the results, both working groups arrived at some common conclusions. In general, the interest shown by young students was at satisfactory levels. The lectures were well received and managed to achieve their goal of stimulating the student’s curiosity on the topic. However, we noticed some kind of worrisome mistrust in the existence of these rights and their implementation in practice. Although in theory desirable, in some cases these rights were perceived by students as utopian, which underlines the exceptional need for continued education on the subject through activities such as Human Rights 101 as well as identifies the need for a continuous work to change the perception that the younger generation has about the legal rights in general, and the system of values in particular. Human Rights 101 will be an event that will take place every year, increasing year by year the number of students involved and the quality of the discussion.