Human Rights and the K-12 Curriculum -- Workshop for Educators

Human Rights and the K-12 Curriculum -- Workshop for Educators

United Nations photos and art -- the text of Art. 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is in the middle, an Indian child labors as a brick maker, a UN peacekeeper stands amidst a political rally in Cambodia, Pakistani girl learns to write.

Understanding human rights conditions around the world and knowing how to appropriately and effectively bring human rights issues into the classroom are essential for today's educators. This workshop provides teachers with the knowledge, materials, and methods they need to engage their students.

The UCLA Asia Institute, the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian StudiesUCLA International are pleased to announce a two-day Human Rights Workshop for K-12 teachers. This, our second annual human rights-centered  workshop, will be held February 7-8, 2004.

Using Asian Case Studies to Help Teachers Bring Human Rights into their Classrooms

Human rights are a global concern. Among the topics to be explored in the workshop is whether human rights are “universal,?that is do and should all individuals enjoy the same rights, or whether human rights are and should be conditioned by cultural norms and levels of economic development. This debate is an old but still hot one in Asia, where famous leaders such as Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew and Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad argue that human rights in their countries must be tempered by “Asian values?while their many opponents argue for adherence to recognized international norms.


One indication of how Asian case studies can permit students can be readily engaged in learning about human rights is their prominence in recent headlines:


  • The 1995 case of 72 Thai women being held as virtual slaves in El Monte, was only the tip of trafficking iceberg; the State Dept. estimates that thousands of Asian women and children are brought to the US each year to work in factories, restaurants, and brothels; in December the US government allocated funds to pursue and prosecute traffickers and to offer assistance to their victims
  • Echoes of East Timor: the Indonesian military and paramilitary forces linked to the army are accused of gross human rights violations in Aceh, where martial law was declared in May; among the most recent incidents was the killing of journalist Ersa Siregar (who visited UCLA as a Jefferson fellow in 2002)
  • Vietnamese dissident Nguyen Vu Binh is about to be tried for espionage, a charge human rights organizations claim has been fabricated to stifle calls for peaceful political change
  • Afghanistan's loya jirga (grand council) is meeting to create a new constitution, but it appears the body is likely to put the interests of warlords ahead of the interests of women, children, and other ordinary Afghanis; given the warlord-guided intimidation and electoral fraud in selecting delegates, many are not surprised
  • After years of permitting HIV/AIDS patients to be ostracized and denied proper care, in November China's government announced it would make antiretroviral drugs available to all afflicted with the disease; China's prime minister made a highly publicized visit to meet with AIDS patients
  • After previously labeling them “terrorists?and “killers,?the US government is preparing to release more than ten Uighurs from detention at Guantánamo Bay and to return them to China; however US officials are under pressure to secure promises that these individuals will be treated humanely once they are returned -- in recent months China is reported to have executed a number of Uighurs deemed separatists

Participants in this two-day workshop will explore the global, national, and local dimensions of human rights issues. The workshop will use case studies from Asia to understand how human rights abuses affect immigration patterns and the relations many immigrants and second and third generation Americans have with their ancestral homelands. In addition to enhancing their understanding of contemporary Asian cultures and regimes, of international human rights standards and the human rights work of governmental and non-governmental entities, participants will learn how to share this understanding with their students. Participants will be provided with materials and assistance in developing their own lessons to strengthen content competence and to develop grade and subject-appropriate analytical and communication skills. These teachers will be better equipped to encourage tolerance among their students and to help students appreciate the critical role human rights play in the lives of people here and elsewhere in the world.

Workshop presenters include Geoff Robinson (UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies), Mark Elinson (Los Angeles Unified School District), Lorna Chiu (Doctors Without Borders), Namju Cho (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking), Brad Adams (Human Rights Watch), and Anne Parish and Todd Jennings (Amnesty International).

The $30 registration fee includes parking, refreshments, educational materials and resources. Los Angeles Unified School District teachers who complete all workshop requirements are eligible to receive one salary point credit (specific multi-cultural). The human resources offices of many other Los Angeles County school districts (e.g., Long Beach Unified) accept LAUSD salary credit.

Space in the workshop is limited and preference is given to those whose teaching assignments permit them to draw upon the materials and methods introduced in the workshop.

Additional information is available at the workshop website: To register, please contact the Asia Institute's Linda Truong at or (310) 825-0007. The workshop is co-sponsored with the human rights organizations mentioned above. Financial support for the workshop from the National Resource Center grants made by U.S. Department of Education to UCLA International centers.

To learn more about bringing Asia into your curriculum, please visit the Asia in the K-12 Curriculum section of the Asia Institute website. The Outreach section of the UCLA International website has additional information about teacher-oriented programs and resources.

[Thumbnail image is from a UN photo of a East Timorese refugee on her way back to Dili.]

Published: Saturday, January 03, 2004