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Holistic human rights education essential to make schools safe



Mechanisms to prevent violence against children in schools must be holistic, sustained, consistent in their intent and focused on upholding human rights, Amnesty International India said today, following the dissemination of new guidelines on safety measures in schools by the government of Karnataka.

On 23 July 2014, the Karnataka Department of Public Instruction issued directions to schools regarding “Safety Measures and Guidelines for School children”. There have been several protests in Bangalore, Karnataka, in recent days following the rape of a girl in a private school in the city on 2 July 2014.  

The guidelines recommend the formation of child protection committees, surveillance, staff background checks and restrictions on access to children. The Department of Public Instruction has issued other guidelines on school safety earlier.

“The various guidelines issued by the authorities in Karnataka unfortunately do not form a coherent response to issues of violence against children in schools,” said Tara Rao, Director, Human Rights Education, Amnesty International India. “It is important to have a holistic approach to institute secure school environments."

“The authorities and schools must work together to cultivate long-term, sustainable respect for human rights values and principles in all areas of school life, and not focus only on surveillance and monitoring. It is essential to ensure all members of the school community – students, teachers, parents and management - are involved in awareness-raising, sensitization and training aimed at preventing violence against children and creating healthy learning environments. Children must have access to effective complaints mechanisms, and there must be efficient systems to identify and report abuse.”

Amnesty International India’s Human Rights Education (HRE) Programme works with schools to make them ‘human rights friendly’, placing human rights at the heart of the learning process, seeking to create and sustain school spaces that uphold principles of equality, dignity, and respect, non-discrimination and participation.

“The HRE programme works with 30 schools in Bangalore, and is expanding to other parts of the country. It sets up mechanisms and spaces for parents, teachers, management and students to discuss issues within the school. The programme contributes towards ensuring that human rights are learnt, practiced and respected, from the ground up,” said Tara Rao.

Benazir Baig, founder of the Excellent School in Bangalore, which participates in Amnesty International India’s HRE programme, said, “Everybody in our school community has been involved in the programme, including teachers. It is important for more schools to introduce programmes that create an environment that prevents violence against children.”

International law recognizes the right of every child to be protected from violence in schools. The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – to which India is a state party - notes that “every possible economic and social measure should be taken… to prevent


from being subjected to acts of violence.” The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – to which India is a state party – requires states to “take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.”

The understanding that the guarantee of “measures of protection” includes protection from violence reflects the reality that the consequences of harassment and violence may include depriving children of other rights, including the right to education. Having laws and policies that enable authorities to address violence in schools is an important first step towards guaranteeing these rights.

Amnesty International India is part of the Amnesty International global human rights movement. We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion, and are funded mainly by contributions from individual supporters. Amnesty International India's Human Rights Education programme works with schools in India to integrate human rights into schools' curricula, relationships, environment and governance. Our vision is for every person in India to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, other international human rights standards and the Constitution of India.

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10 global human rights principles

A Human Rights Friendly School is rooted in 10 principles which are derived from international human rights standards, norms & instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). These principle strengthen the thoughts and actions of every member of the school community. They are the foundation for the four key areas of school life: Curriculum, Relationships, Environment and Governance.

Tabwin 10principles
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4 areas of school life: the domains
of change

For a school to become
human rights friendly, the 10 Global Human Rights Principles need to be wholly integrated into every aspect of school life: Curriculum, Relationships, Environment and Governance. These areas are not separate, rather they are continuously overlapping
and co-dependent. The team at
Amnesty International is excited about helping every school to create domains of change within these four areas of school life.

4 areas of school life 4 areas of school life 4 areas of school life 4 areas of school life
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who we are

  • The Team »
  • Tara Rao »
  • Krittika Vishwanath »
  • Inka Dama »
  • Somya »
  • Ankita »
  • Amnesty International »
  • Amnesty International India »

the team

We are passionate about human rights education and believe that a human rights approach to education can bring about meaningful change. That's why we're so excited to be part of the Amnesty International Human Rights for Education Programme.

But to call this initiative a programme is in many ways diminishing its scope and impact. We truly believe that we are together seeding a global movement. One that will start with schools and work it's way outward to change communities and in good time, create a rights respecting world.

We are delighted to be facilitators for such amazing possibilities.

Tara Rao

Tara RaoLeads the Human Rights for Education team in developing the Human Rights Education Programme with schools communities, resource networks and the wider public | BA in Architecture before joining the development sector | MA in Gender and a management degree | Previously worked as Senior Policy Advisor Global Climate and Energy Team for WWF | Lead author of Building an Equitable Green Economy, commissioned as a contribution to the Rio+20 Environment and Development Conference | Previously worked for various development bi-lateral and multi-lateral organisations - researching, assessing, evaluating and training | Enjoys playing tennis, singing/music and doing intricate jigsaw puzzles

Krittika Vishwanath

Krittika VishwanathSupports schools to integrate human rights education into school life | MA Sociology, MA Elementary Education (currently pursuing) | Previously a teacher-educator for government school teachers across Karnataka covering areas of social studies, teacher professional development and integrating technology into education | Also worked with youth groups on urban governance, youth participation and climate change | Passionate about travel and food

Inka Dama

Inka DamaWorks on all communication and media-related aspects of the Human Rights for Education programme | BA in Economics and Commerce & PG Diploma in Social Communications Media| Previously worked in advertising and communications, and as a copywriter with Ambience Publicis Advertising | Volunteered as junior communications officer with Pax Christi International in Brussels & worked with CRY - Child Rights and You | Loves music and food (in no particular order)


Archana Ganesh RajSomya is programme officer with Amnesty International India. She holds a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Delhi. Her previous work experience with several National and International organizations has strengthened her belief that children can be change makers if they are empowered. She directly works with students, teachers, schools and NGO partners across the country as part of the HRE programme. She comes to work so that she can go back to school and watch children become change makers.


Archana Ganesh RajCoordinates internal communication, documentation, and monitoring and evaluation of HRE’s work in schools | Also conducts training for Telecalling and Face to face teams in Bangalore and Chennai | BA in Journalism from Delhi University | MA in Social Work | Previously worked for a skill development organization | Experience in working with children in juvenile homes/ youth in observation homes | Theatre enthusiast, trekker and music lover.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement with three million members that has campaigned for justice, freedom, truth and dignity for the past five decades. In recognition of its work and accomplishments, Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.

Amnesty International India

Amnesty International India focuses on creating a rights respecting society in India. Drawing on Amnesty International's 50+ years of experience as a global campaigning movement, Amnesty International India is led and funded by people in India, directed by their dreams and aspirations.

We work in two broad areas within the human rights spectrum - building awareness and catalysing action on key human rights issues and violations, and providing much-needed commitment to human rights education and awareness.

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Contact us

Amnesty International in India
1074/B-1, First Floor, 11th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indira Nagar, Bangalore, Karnataka, India - 560 008
Phone : +91 (080) 49388000 Email: [email protected]