Human Rights Leadership Forum in NSW

Lorraine Finlay & Hugh Kingsley with high school students

Hugh Kingsley | Managing Director at The Brainary

How does STEM Education relates to Human Rights? To answer this question, we are drawing on the experiences from our Human Rights Leadership Forum in NSW earlier this year. It is also important to note that the United Nations (UN) has long recognised the importance of education as a fundamental human right. As a reminder the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 largely due to the atrocities and human rights violations witnessed during World War II. Then in 2015 the UN created the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a framework for global development and prioritise access to quality education. So it can be argued that sustainability is a subset and core element of the UDHR. In Europe, schools and libraries have made the connection between STEM education and global sustainability, which has become a priority worldwide. Schools and libraries are now advocating for student-led sustainable STE(A)M projects that help solve important issues such as global warming.

When we asked Dr Scott Sleap (STEM expert) for his opinion on how Human Rights issues relate to STEM education. Dr Sleap identified several issues some key ones being:

  • Access to quality STEM education: A fundamental human rights issue is ensuring that everyone has equal access to quality STEM education, regardless of their socioeconomic status, geographical location, gender, or ethnicity. This has been recently exposed during the COVID lockdowns.
  • Inclusive learning environments: It is crucial to create an inclusive and accessible learning environment for students with disabilities. This includes providing necessary accommodations and adaptive technologies to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in STEM education.
  • Ethical considerations in STEM research and applications: STEM education should promote ethical awareness and responsibility, particularly regarding the development and application of new technologies. Students should be encouraged to consider the potential social, environmental, and ethical consequences of their work.

Knowing that Australia is a signatory to the UDHR together with 191 other countries worldwide, Australia has obligations to teach and practise the UDHR on a daily basis. To help ignite some positive action, The Brainary created a Human Rights Forum in Fairfield NSW, which was kindly hosted by the Whitlam public library. The forum utilised The Brainary’s Human Rights Game as the catalyst for the forum.

Although our Human Rights Leadership Forum with Fairfield libraries NSW, did not specifically address sustainability, it gave students from six Fairfield local high schools the opportunity to participate in the forum and provided their suggestions on how Human Rights could be embedded in everyday life, and in particular within their school. In doing so, leading the way for sustainability projects to become priorities within their STE(A)M programs.

Want to know more about the The Human Rights Game?

The first aim of The Human Rights Game is to make a positive difference by teaching children and teens about their rightsfreedoms and responsibilities as individuals and groups of individuals in educational settings.

Students have their say!

On the 27th of April as part of the NSW Youth Week celebration, Fairfield City Open Libraries hosted the Human Rights Leadership Forum co-facilitated by Lorraine Finlay, Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner and Hugh Kingsley the Director of The Brainary and creator of the Human Rights Game which had the in kind support of the UN.

Over 125 students from six different Fairfield local high schools participated in the forum. The students were highly and actively engaged, and many provided excellent suggestions on how Human Rights could be embedded in everyday life and more specifically, within their schools.

Some of the students suggestions included:

  • “There should be more acknowledgement of multiculturalism in schools, for example, celebrating cultural holidays”
  • “There needs to be more LGBTQIA+ representation in school”

“Freedom of speech should be more strongly integrated in schools/education systems, for example, students should speak up for what they believe in.

 

 

At the end of the forum, students were provided the opportunity to present their suggestions on what they believed their school could do to implement human rights principles to the NSW Director of Educational Leadership,  Lisa Porter.

 

Students presenting their group’s suggestions to Lorraine Finlay and Lisa Porter.

Overall, The Human Rights Leadership Forum at Whitlam Library was a terrific success and we would like to thank all of those who were able to attend and got involved. In our next human rights forum, which is scheduled to take place at Melbourne Grammar School this coming August, we plan to formally address STEM education and sustainability.

In other exciting news, we are working with Monash University in Victoria to create a longitudinal study based on embedding human rights education in the curriculum and everyday school life. If you are interested to get involved at some level or host your own Human Rights excursion, please contact Madison@thebrainary.com

About the Author

Hugh Kingsley

He is an educationalist and the founder of The Brainary®. Hugh is passionate about making a meaningful difference in the world, which he goes about achieving through education and healthcare resources, technologies and publishing.

Hugh is well published in both academic and non-academic journals and has served on both ministerially and non-ministerially appointed boards of management.

In 2016 past Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presented Hugh’s team with a National Disability Award for its innovative work in the field of robotics and disabilities.