UNHCR opens website for school teachers
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced today the launching of a new section in its web site providing tens of thousands of school teachers across the world with tools to incorporate refugee issues in their curriculum.
The section, called "For Teachers," contains 45 detailed lesson plans, as well as colourful activity sheets, maps, charts, paintings and photos. These materials, for students aged from 9 to 18, are specially formatted for easy downloading from the UNHCR web site (http://www.unhcr.org) for reproduction and distribution in classrooms. They can be accessed in more than 100 countries.
For Teachers is aimed at helping students understand some of the complex processes that lead to conflict and human rights abuses which in turn cause refugees to flee from their countries. It also promotes tolerance for refugees by encouraging children to empathise with the plight of the 22 million people UNHCR cares for.
For the convenience of hard-pressed teachers, lessons are tailor-made to slot into existing programmes in history, geography, civic education, language, literature and the arts. Unit topics include the 1994 Rwandan refugee crisis, massive population displacements in the former Soviet Union, the persecution of artists in Nazi Germany, the environmental impact of refugees, refugee contributions to literature, women's issues, child soldiers.
Teachers will also find reading materials, links to other relevant parts of the UNHCR web site and a list of references for each topic.
UNHCR launched its Internet site last year to focus world opinion on refugees. The site features news on developments in refugee crises around the world. It carries comprehensive information for the general public on UNHCR's activities, along with texts outlining specific refugee issues in 90 countries. It also contains a legal information database drawn from the REFWORLD CD-ROM already produced by UNHCR.
The Internet site has been designed to serve as a valuable research tool to provide an intriguing perspective on difficult refugee issues, both old and new. From the outset, it has been intended for use not only by people involved in refugee programmes but also by school children and university students. UNHCR feels that it is vital to get the message out as widely as possible: refugees are not a threat, they are ordinary people in need of protection.