Thinking globally, acting locally
The José Antonio Encinas School in Magdalena del Mar, a district of Lima, Peru, has around 250 students from 5-year-old preschoolers to 16-year-old secondary students. Its motto is “aprender a aprender, aprender a convivir en democracia” (Learning to learn, Learning to live together in democracy). In 2013, when the school began to integrate human rights into its educational approach, the students were able to identify, discuss and resolve issues they faced through a human rights “lens.”
“The entire project was student driven. Thus each topic was very relevant to the students … They now see their reality through the ‘lens’ of human rights, bringing ‘distant’ global issues ‘close’ to their personal experience. For example, when the students studied torture, they saw similarities to bullying within the school. By making this connection, they saw the importance of not disrespecting or harming others.”
Helga Bazan, Teacher at José Antonio Encinas School
Students would find news events from around the world that interested them and then research how these events were linked with human rights. They would present their findings and opinions to their classmates through study groups and peer-to-peer learning. They also engaged the wider community on these issues through workshops.
Through the project, the students began to understand the concept of human rights and how global issues were related and relevant to their own lives. They also developed skills to take action and campaign for human rights—at first within the school, then more widely within their community.
Today the students of José Antonio Encinas School continue to be involved in student-led human rights education. They use the perspective of human rights to identify and think about issues they face—both within the school and within their families and communities—and come up with practical solutions to address them.
The students of José Antonio Encinas School organize an annual school-wide campaign each July called the Fiesta del Peru (Festival of Peru). The festival is held in a public plaza or park, and the whole community is invited to actively participate.
Since the first human rights workshops in 2013, the festival has focused on a different human rights topic each year. Human rights issues are brought to life through short plays, workshops, games and quizzes, art projects, discussions and debates, and other awareness raising activities.
“Así no es, no te acostumbres”
“It’s not like that, so don’t get used to it”
Students identified commonly accepted behaviors that were nevertheless violations of human rights, such as corporal punishment of children, violence against women (molesting women in the streets), or corruption. Students dramatized the issues with short plays and then engaged the audience in open discussions.
“The Street Is Ours”
Awareness raising through art
Human rights are learned through engagement with art and dialogue with artists: “We are spectators of art, we reflect critically on the quality and variety of what is offered to us, we discuss access to art—either as spectator or creator, and we investigate the legal framework that encourages the exercise of the right that we as citizens enjoy in the participation of cultural life of our community.”
“Eyes of the community”
Civil surveillance and community monitoring
Students organized activities around civil surveillance and community monitoring of human rights and corruption. The event coincided with the presidential and congressional elections in Peru and included constructive engagement with government authorities.