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Belfast Telegraph, published on 11, September 2007.
By Lisa Smyth
Teachers from wartorn Israel and Palestine are looking to Ulster classrooms for a possible solution to their nations’ conflict.
They were joined by others from Sierra Leone, UNESCO and Quebec at an international education congress recently where the Ulster Teachers’ Union unveiled the success of the conflict resolution project Lift Off, used throughout Ireland.
Developed by Amnesty International in conjunction with the UTU and Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, it provides a vehicle for teachers in Northern Ireland and the Republic to tackle the issue of human rights.
Children learn about the concept of human rights and conflict resolution through a cartoon alien who comes to Earth and poses various questions as he tries to understand human culture. He asks why a name is important and what identity means, for instance.
Ex-UTU president Jacquie Reid, a teacher at Millburn Primary School in Coleraine, led the session – entitled Education for Peace and Social Justice – at Education International, a four-yearly event hosted this time in Berlin.
“We were delighted by the number of teachers who attended – teachers from countries which are sadly all too often in the news for all the wrong reasons,” she said.
“We were looking at whether or not human rights education had actually contributed anything to where we are in Northern Ireland at the minute. Thirty years ago who would have believed that Northern Ireland would be where it is today?”
Established in 2001, Lift Off primarily aims to encourage development of a human rights culture on the island of Ireland by promoting and supporting the mainstreaming of human rights education in primary schools.
Three initial pilot projects took place from 2001 to 2006 during which over 70 schools and around 8,000 children took part in the development of a set of three resource books.
The translation of Lift Off has been completed and the books given to Irish medium schools in the Republic. They will go to Irish medium schools in Northern Ireland this autumn.