Learning rights from wrong

Mary MacKillop Catholic Community Primary School Year 5 students (from left) Charlotte Maguire, Olivia Bonjour, Luca De Santos, Kyle Cosson and Tahlia De Francesco. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d407582
Mary MacKillop Catholic Community Primary School Year 5 students (from left) Charlotte Maguire, Olivia Bonjour, Luca De Santos, Kyle Cosson and Tahlia De Francesco. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d407582

HRAR co-ordinator Jessica England said the free program, supported by the McCusker Charitable Foundation and the West Australian Football Commission, introduced children to the four tenets of human rights ” freedom, respect, equality and dignity.

She said games such as ‘handball for human rights’ and ‘undignified tunnel ball’ were used to entertain the children but also as a means to explore rights issues such as racial discrimination.

‘Sport is a great tool for the program because it crosses so many cultural and socio-economic barriers. We’re teaching kids that respecting everyone’s rights begins in our own playgrounds,’ Ms England said.

Assistant principal Paul Cranley said the program grabbed the school’s attention because of its realistic and practical approach to essential aspects of learning.

‘We’re a school with a fair sized immigrant population and we don’t really have any bullying or racism to speak of but occasionally it flares up, as it does in most places, so talking about those issues through the fun avenue of sport seemed a better way for us to go than to have a hardline approach,’ he said.

‘Rather than being a highbrow study of the untouchable, the kids actually experience lack of respect or lack of dignity or lack of freedom as part of their learning.

‘The students are really enjoying themselves ” they’re laughing and having fun and really engaging with the program.’

Mr Cranley said that being a Catholic school with a high value-based educational ideal, there were not any problems with human rights issues but it was important for children to understand everyone has ‘exactly the same rights’.

‘We increasingly have kids from Somalia and Afghanistan, and other hard countries to live in, so it’s a good way of immersing the kids into what our culture as Australians is,’ he said.