Listed below are a range of student activities that have been created to promote the importance of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is the internationally recognised standard of human rights and social justice for every man, woman and child alive in the world today.
These student activities can be adapted to suit different student levels or age groups, and have been designed with consideration of global education standards. Students are encouraged to submit their hopes and aspirations for the future, on the interactive FUTURE page within the site, or to sign and view the guest book. A number of major international organisations that promote universal human rights are profiled on the site. Many organisations offer the opportunity for students to GET INVOLVED in activities that support and promote universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Universal Human Rights
The Rights of Children
The Rights of Women
The Rights of Indigenous People
Conservation and Protection of the Environment
Human Rights Heroes
Australian Student Learning Outcomes (Levels 4-7)
Universal Human Rights
    1. With a partner, form a definition of 'human rights'. Share your definition in class discussion and agree on a class definition of human rights.
    2. With your partner, list examples of what you believe are the fundamental and universal rights of humans. Share your list in class discussion. Can the rights be grouped under specific headings? (Possible examples might be 'civil and political rights', such as rights to freedom of speech and movement; 'social rights', such as rights to food and shelter; 'environmental rights', such as the right to live in a clean and safe environment.)
    3. Read either the official version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, announced on 10 December 1948, or the subsequent simple English version.
    4. Which rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration has the class identified?
    5. Do any of the rights in the Universal Declaration not appear in the class list? If so, which ones? Why might you have omitted them from the list? (Students often overlook the right to have a name, nationality, etc. We take them for granted.)
    6. Are there any rights which you included and which you believe the Universal Declaration overlooked? If so, what are they and why do you think they were overlooked? (Environmental rights were completely overlooked - such issues were not on the agenda in 1948. Although the environment could be considered under the right to Life, and A safe and secure environment.)
  1. With rights come responsibilities.
    1. What are the responsibilities of all people in ensuring that all people enjoy their rights? With a partner, brainstorm a list of responsible behaviours towards other people, then create a class list.
    2. What are the responsibilities of all people towards:
      1. the environment?
      2. community property?
      3. themselves (such as hygiene)?
    3. Create a charter of rights and responsibilities for all people who enter your classroom. Display the charter in a prominent position.
    4. Design a colourful poster with a collage of positive photographic or visual images on one of the following, and display it in a prominent location in the school or local community:
      1. people enjoying their rights
      2. people acting responsibly towards others, the environment, their community or themselves.
  2. Individually, with a partner or in a small group, play the 'rights balloon' simulation game using any ten items from the above class list of human rights.
    1. Write each right on a small card.
    2. Imagine you are travelling safely above the earth in a hot air balloon where each right is a 'weight' maintaining the balloon's balance and keeping you comfortably aloft. Suddenly, the balloon loses balance and rapidly loses altitude. You must throw one weight or 'right' overboard. Which will be the first to be discarded? In other words, which right do you consider to be least important? Place the discarded right to the side.
    3. Continue the activity, noting the order in which you discard the rights, until only one right remains - that considered to be most important.
    4. Discuss as a class which rights were considered to be least important, and which ones were most important. Was there close to consensus on ranking's? How easy or difficult was it to reach agreement on the ranking's, and why? What were the main criteria used in determining the importance of rights?
    1. Locate novels, short stories, folk stories, fables or famous quotes which raise the benefits of sharing, or the problems which result from acts of greed and violence. (School and local libraries and good bookshops can suggest many titles about specific rights issues.) Alternatively, watch a feature film or video about a human rights issue.
    2. Use one of the sources as the basis for one of the following:
      1. your own story as the person living through the difficult situation, then finding a solution, perhaps with the assistance of a human rights organ isation
      2. illustrations of three important scenes, with dialogue boxes or captions
      3. a role play of three important scenes. Videotape the role play.
    1. Visit the Get Involved page which lists many organisations working towards the full achievement of human rights. Many of the organisations have won Nobel Prizes, sometimes on more than one occasion. (Which organisations are they?) Select at least three organisations and identify what specific rights' violations each is working to overcome. Identify at least two specific methods each organisation is using.
    2. Investigate one organisation in detail, including details of one of its more successful projects. Report back to the class. Where possible, invite a guest speaker with a video or slide presentation. You might be able to suggest additional services the organisation could offer.
    3. Find out what you or your school can do to assist the organisation in its work. For example, participate in the Community Aid Abroad 'Walk Against Want' or the World Vision Australia 'Forty Hour Famine'.
      If you wish to add your own brief comments with regard to this topic, please visit the Future page.
The Rights of Children
  1. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is any person under the age of 18.
    1. With a partner or in a small group, prepare two lists - one for the positive experiences, and one for the negative experiences - which children and young adults worldwide might face in their daily lives. (Children and young adults in all countries, developed and developing, have both positive and negative experiences. Consider influences such as race, socio-economic status and gender.)
    2. Compile lists on the board.
    3. Explain
      1. possible causes and,
      2. possible effects of several of the positive experiences, and repeat for negative experiences.
    4. For the negative experiences, what sorts of assistance could overcome the problems?
    5. Street children in many countries often suffer the most human rights abuses. Identify which rights (either from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Convention on the Rights of the Child) most street children are denied.
    6. Identify which government and non-government organisations are working globally or in your local community to enable street children to fully enjoy their rights. Find out about specific projects and report back to the class.
  2. To what extent does your school, or a youth organisation to which you belong, actively encourage equal rights and opportunities for all people under 18 years of age?
    1. Conduct one or more of the following activities:
      1. Survey the gender balance in particular subjects at different year levels in your school, or in different areas of your youth organisation. Graph and explain the results.
      2. Interview students at different year levels, or members of different areas of the youth organisation concerning their anticipated careers and the extent to which the school or organisation has influenced their decisions. Have the influences been direct or subtle?
      3. Interview the equal opportunity officer or the person who makes most decisions about the running of the school or organisation.
    2. Should there be reforms in the way the school or youth organisation operates? If so, identify the reforms, suggest how, when and to whom they should be recommended, and act on them.
  3. Have you ever observed another student in your school being denied one of their rights? For example, have you ever observed anyone being abused because of their race, gender or religion? What did you do? Would you do the same thing, or something different, if the situation arose again? If comfortable, share your stories with the class.
  4. Design a poster of strong visual images and a clever caption highlighting the rights of children. Place the poster in a prominent location in your school or local community.
  5. What could you or your school do to assist children in your community, or assist them to help themselves, in fully enjoying their rights?
    For further information, link to:
    Save the Children
    Convention on the Rights of the Child
    If you wish to add your own brief comments with regard to this topic, please visit the Future page.
The Rights of Women
    1. With a partner, create two lists based on personal observations for occupations which are
      1. more often held by men,
      2. more often held by women.
    2. Share lists with the class and identify which occupations are mentioned regularly for men, and regularly for women. Are there trends associated with the types of occupations listed for each gender, such as jobs involving higher education, physical labour, care-giving, working with things/people? What might be some possible explanations for these trends?
    3. How are jobs at home allocated to the males and females in your family? Why?
    4. What have these activities highlighted to you about gender differentiation in the workforce and at home, and specifically, about women's rights? What are your views on the differentiation?
    1. Investigate how women are often portrayed in newspaper/magazine and television advertising. Survey advertising over a number of publications, or evenings of television. Are women, more often than men, associated with particular types of work or products, or particular behaviours, and vice versa? Are the images or messages direct or subtle? What are the possible consequences of the images in terms of women's rights?
    2. What are your views concerning any trends you might have identified?
    1. Visit children's toy shops to observe the types, placement and packaging of toys, or compare birthday cards for children and teenagers, or recall nursery rhymes from your childhood. Are there gender-based differences, are the differences direct or subtle, and what messages do you think these send to your community about girls and women and their rights? If you believe the messages are wrong, what can you do to counteract them?
  1. Locate and comment upon proverbs, writings and images from different countries and different time periods which indicate the status and rights (or lack of rights) of women, as seen by those writers or artists. Are there historical explanations for the situations? Can the situations be justified?
  2. Research the beginnings of political action for women's equal rights in your country and one other. Identify the main individuals and groups. Find out when women in your country and other countries were given the right to vote. Find out when different items of legislation were enacted to ensure women's equal rights.
    For further information, link to:
    United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
    United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
    Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
    If you wish to add your own brief comments with regard to this topic please visit the Future Page.
The Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    1. How would you feel if something you and your family believed was your own was taken from you without permission, possibly violently, and without anything in return? What would you do? Think of responses which do not involve violence. Share your responses with the class.
    2. Discuss with the class whether length of association with something gives people more rights to it. Explain. Are there criteria over which people should have the right to call land their own? If so, what are they?
    1. Attend an oral presentation by an indigenous speaker, a live musical or theatrical performance, a display of traditional or contemporary indigenous art, or visit (with permission) a site of particular significance to indigenous people. Alternatively, investigate the life story of a prominent indigenous spokesperson, read indigenous stories or view a film or documentary about a particular indigenous people, written by or accredited by those people wherever possible.
    2. Research the consequences of colonialism or contact with other peoples for one particular indigenous people. In particular, how important have been, or are, land rights to the people you are researching? Why?
    3. Demonstrate your understandings of the people and their culture - what is most valuable to the people, what rights they are being denied and, where applicable, how they are overcoming the problems - by completing one of the following:
      1. writing a formal report
      2. writing your own short story, legend or fable
      3. illustrating several scenes of the people's experiences, using dialogue boxes or captions
      4. role playing one or more experiences of the people and videotaping it
  1. Indigenous peoples have made many contributions to global living. Investigate examples such as indigenous people's knowledge of natural foods, drinks, medicines and pesticides, traditional land management, monitoring of weather conditions, prediction of natural events, and contributions such as art, literature, music or dance.
  2. Collect newspaper articles relating to current land claims by indigenous people. Where possible, follow the progress of one or more events, identify the arguments given by the people claiming the rights and the groups in opposition. Examine the language of the reporting, for example, whether coverage appears to favour one side more than another. Offer explanations for any bias. Predict possible outcomes of the claims.
  3. Create a list of attitudes and behaviours - of both indigenous peoples and non-indigenous peoples - necessary for land rights, cultural rights and development which will benefit all people to co-exist. Display the list in a prominent place in your school or local community.
    For further information, link to:
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
    Native Web Community Centre
    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
    If you wish to add your own brief comments with regard to this topic, please visit the Future page.
Conservation and Protection of the Environment
    1. With a partner, create two lists of
      1. our rights with regard to the environment and,
      2. our responsibilities towards the environment. Share the lists with the class.
    2. Brainstorm either
      1. what the natural environment in a broad sense provides for life on earth, or
      2. what a specific element of the environment provides for life on earth, for example, what forests provide.
    3. What can be the consequences of significantly altering or harming the natural environment? For example, what can be the consequences of widespread clearing of forests? Draw a flow-chart or futures wheel, beginning with 'deforestation' (or another event), illustrating a range of possible consequences in the immediate area and over a larger area. (A futures wheel is - it is a set of flowcharts radiating out from one centrepoint)
    4. Visit an area affected by logging or another human activity and check whether any of your predictions in the flow-chart or futures wheel appear to have come true. Also visit an area either in its natural state or after rehabilitation. Describe both areas in detail and produce your own sets of data through a range of field activities, such as transect comparisons of erosion, soil profiles and analyses of leaf litter.
    1. List ten items you have used, or will use today, which require 'energy'.
    2. Identify the sources of the energy for the items and whether each is renewable or non-renewable.
    3. Investigate how one renewable and one non-renewable energy is generated, and perhaps research specific projects in your country or overseas. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of energy? Which type of energy is usually considered to be more harmful to the environment and, therefore, more harmful to humans? Why?
    4. Considering that most societies use non-renewable energies, what measures can those societies adopt to minimise harm to the environment and themselves?
    5. Check your answers to d) by visiting an energy conservation resource centre to find out about their strategies for reducing the burning of fossil fuels through wiser energy use, and extending use of renewable energies.
    1. Discuss as a class what you understand of the greenhouse effect and current causes of global warming, including the roles of fossil fuels and chlorofluorocarbons.
    2. Discuss the function of the ozone layer and causes of the hole in it. (Be careful not to confuse the greenhouse effect with the hole in the ozone layer. The main point in common is that chlorofluorocarbons which contribute to the greenhouse effect also destroy the ozone layer.)
    3. Predict possible consequences of
      1. significant global warming for life on Earth and,
      2. the further destruction of the ozone layer.
    4. Investigate how the release of chlorofluorocarbons and fossil fuels can be minimised. A visit to an energy conservation centre will be most informative..
  1. Write science fiction short stories, diary extracts or poetry; draw images, or perform plays relating to a world where the environment has been significantly damaged. Publish the stories in school or other magazines, display your artwork, or perform the role play as a reminder to others to care for the environment.
    1. As a class, create a list of appropriate attitudes and behaviours for conserving and protecting the environment for all humans and life forms to enjoy.
    2. As an individual, select one of attitude or behaviour to which you are genuinely prepared to commit yourself, and devise a plan of action for implementing it.
    3. Live up to your commitment.
      For further information, link to:
      Friends of the Earth
      United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
      If you wish to add your own brief comment with regard to this topic, please visit the Future page.
Link into the Heroes page or move around this site to discover the stories of some people considered heroes by many others for their commitments to upholding different human rights.
  1. Find out the following for each person:
    1. Which human right(s) is each person best known for advocating?
    2. How did each person's childhood, or other significant life experiences, contribute to their stance on the right(s)?
    3. What obstacles has each person needed to overcome or what obstacles is that person currently encountering?
    4. What have been some of the major achievements, events or significant contributions to human rights with which that person has been associated?
  2. YOU can be a hero for human rights. Everyone can play a part in making this a better world for all. You do not need to be a global media identity; you can be a hero in your own family, in your neighbourhood, within your community and in all of your daily interactions with people and the environment.
    If people were to tell your life story in many years time, what would they say; what would you like to be remembered for?
    If you wish to add your own brief comments please visit the Future page.
Australian Student Learning Outcomes (Levels 4-7)
For Australian students, the following activities have been designed to support student achievement of outcomes at levels 4-7 of the nationally-developed profile studies of Society and Environment, specifically the strands and organisers of:
Time, continuity and change:
Interpretations and perspectives
Place and Space:
People and places
Care of Places
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures
Pesonal group and cultural identity
Use of resources
People and work
Natural and social systems:
Political and legal systems
Investigation, Communication and Participation
The activities may, however, be adapted for students working at different levels, in different strands or in different learning areas.
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