Human Rights Education Programme Inaugurated

By Fr. KJ Joy SDB
Guwahati, Feb. 21 : The National Programme on Human Rights Education in the schools of north-east India was inaugurated at a colourful function held at St Anthony`s Higher Secondary School, Shillong on 20 February 2009.
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Inaugurating the Programme, Mr Manas Choudhuri, Honourable Minister of Education, Government of Meghalaya, lamented the fact that human rights education has taken too long to reach north-east.  Quoting Albert Einstein, he said that human rights are an eternal struggle.  The Chief Guest also released the first module of human rights text book which will be used for the classes of 5, 6 and 7 this year.  The textbook is adapted from the existing module prepared by the Institute of Human Rights Education, Madurai to suit the north-eastern context.  

The key note address was delivered by Dr V. Vasanthi Devi, the Chairperson of Institute of Human Rights Education, Madurai.  She highlighted the difficulties one encounters while making the world aware of human rights.  According to her, one of the key solutions to these difficulties is to begin human rights education in classrooms.  

Fr Joseph Almedia, the Salesian provincial of Guwahati, spoke about the various steps taken by the province for initiating human rights education in the different schools of north-east.  He thanked everyone present for their assistance in making this project a reality.

Mr Henry Tiphagne, the Executive Director, People`s Watch, Madurai, the sponsoring body of Institute of Human Rights Education, narrated a brief history of how human rights education evolved in schools.  

The Students of St Anthony`s Higher Secondary entertained the guests with their melodious singing.   They gave a beautiful rendition of the song U-N-I-T-E-D, an international music video from Youth for Human Rights, a human rights organization.

Present for the programme were officials from Meghalaya Board of School Education, priests and religious from various institutions of Shillong, Principals and Headmasters of different schools, representatives from Martin Luther University, Shillong, local villager elders, members from various NGOs, members of the press and the students from neighbouring schools.  

At the beginning of the gathering, Fr Thomas Kanala, the Rector of St Anthony`s Higher Secondary welcomed the esteemed guests present on the dais.  He was happy that the inauguration of the programme is taking place in the school auditorium.  

Fr Davis, Provincial Economer and Director of Bosco Reach Out, Guwahati, proposed the vote of thanks.  Besides thanking the guests for their valuable presence, he expressed his gratitude at the way the entire programme was organized.  He thanked the principal, the vice-principal, teachers and students of St Anthony`s Higher Secondary School for making the programme a success.  He also had a word of praise for Mr Edward Thma, the Coordinator of Human Rights Education in the schools of north-east India for his help in getting the programme organized.