An article from the global news agency Inter Press Service highlights the use of the "Speak Truth to Power" curriculum launched by NYSUT and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and human rights.
Human Rights Teachings Spread Ripples of Hope
By Melanie Haider
NEW YORK - In a new curriculum introduced last December, thousands of students in New York State are learning about modern-day human rights defenders, and that they too can make a positive difference in the world.
"Speak Truth to Power" consists of 17 teacher-developed lessons based on the personal stories of human rights advocates from all over the world, including the Dalai Lama from Tibet, Marina Pisklakova, woman's rights activist from Russia, and Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Laureate and a fighter against apartheid in South Africa.
The curriculum was created for sixth through twelfth grade students, and was launched in New York State by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) and the New York State United Teachers Union (NYSUT).
At Brentwood High School in Long Island, tenth and eleventh graders, led by their English teacher Pamela O'Brien, recently raised and donated 1,000 dollars to an organisation that raises consumer awareness against child labour, after they had researched Kailash Satyarthi and his work for the abolition of child slavery in India.
Satyarthi is one of the human rights defenders in the Speak Truth to Power curriculum.
The students cut out water drops from paper and wrote "I am a ripple of hope" – a reference to a Robert F. Kennedy quote.
Whoever donated a dollar could then write his or her name on it. They taped up the drops on a wall in a main hallway in their school, and drop after drop created a visual wave.
O'Brien told IPS that while standing and looking at the completed wave, one of her students said, "I could never imagine that my voice could make such a difference."
The RFK Center says that the Speak Truth to Power curriculum has been taught to hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S., Europe, Africa and Asia.