Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Working for a fairer world

Year level: 9-10

Issue: Human rights

Country: Timor-Leste, Laos

Case studies: Empowerment of literacy

Human rights are fundamental for the life of all people. Students compare and contrast access to human rights in a number of countries and evaluate activities that seek to improve access to human rights.

Village women experience new freedom through learning and talking together, in Timor-Leste.

Village women experience new freedom through learning and talking together, in Timor-Leste. Photo by Erin McKinnon/IWDA

Interdependence and globalisation, Social justice and human rights

Australia Curriculum links

Learning area


Year 9

The perceptions people have of place, and how this influences their connections to different places (ACHGK065)

Collect, select, record and organise relevant geographical data and information, using ethical protocols, from a range of appropriate primary and secondary sources (ACHGS064)

Year 10

The different ways of measuring and mapping human wellbeing and development, and how these can be applied to measure differences between places (ACHGK076)

The issues affecting the development of places and their impact on human wellbeing, drawing on a study from a developing country or region in Africa, South America or the Pacific Islands (ACHGK078)

Evaluate sources for their reliability, bias and usefulness and represent multi-variable data in a range of appropriate forms, for example, scatter plots, tables, field sketches and annotated diagrams with and without the use of digital and spatial technologies (ACHGS074)


Year 9

Understand that roles and relationships are developed and challenged through language and interpersonal skills (ACELA1551)

Interpret and compare how representations of people and culture in literary texts are drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1633)

Analyse how the construction and interpretation of texts, including media texts, can be influenced by cultural perspectives and other texts (ACELY1739)

Year 10

Understand how language use can have inclusive and exclusive social effects, and can empower or disempower people (ACELA1564)

Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)

Use comprehension strategies to compare and contrast information within and between texts, identifying and analysing embedded perspectives, and evaluating supporting evidence (ACELY1754)

General capabilities

  • Information and communication technology (ICT) capability
  • Intercultural understanding
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy

Cross–curriculum priorities

  • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability


Activity 1: What are human rights?

Students reflect on their understanding of human rights and examine the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Explain what you think is meant by the term 'human rights'.
Create a poster that visually explains your definition of human rights. You could use Glogster.
Pair and share your ideas. 

View these human rights photographs.
Compare and contrast the images you have used as part of your poster with the images on the website.
Discuss the statement 'a picture can paint a thousand words', using human rights as the context.

Read the introduction to human rights.
Write, in pairs, a list of rights you think you have.

Read the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Read either the complete or the 'plain language' version.
Compare your list with the 'plain language' version and discuss the differences. 
Update your original list and classify the revised list into groups of similar rights (eg economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights; rights for basic needs, freedom, safety and fairness).

Think in pairs, of three examples of rights and the consequences of having and not having access to these particular human rights.
Share your examples with the class.

  • How do human rights improve people's lives?
  • Why don’t all people have access to all human rights?
  • What are the consequences of not having access to human rights? 
  • How can we help to protect people's rights?

Predict three countries in which people might have good access to human rights and three countries in which people might have poor access to human rights.
Discuss your reasoning with a partner.  

Examine a recent Amnesty International Annual Report to find out issues facing the six countries you suggested.


Review the United Nations list of issues that hinder access to human rights.
Pair and share your thoughts about one issue and discuss how it can be addressed.

Activity 2: Working towards a fair and equal world

Students examine how focus on Millennium Development Goals 2, 3, and 5, focusing on access to education and empowerment of women, are contributing to the improvements in human rights.

List the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Explain how each of these goals can support the achievement of human rights.

Read examples of progress to achieving the MDGs in the three countries considered to have low access to human rights in Activity 1. 
Write a paragraph describing strategies and how they are improving access to human rights for all people in that country.

Examine one or both of the following groups of activities analysing progress on the MDGs: 

  1. MDG 2 - Universal primary education in Laos
    View Improving education in Laos and identify effects of the following statements:
  • Children often have to work to support their family.
  • Governments provide attractive, well-built school buildings, trained teachers and meals for students.
  • Provide meals for children attending primary school.
  • Employ women teachers and ensure girls attend primary school.
  • Remove fees for education.

Explain why the Millennium Development Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education has improved the people of Laos’ access to human rights using the Visible Thinking Routine: What Makes You Say That.

  • What's going on?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?


    2. MDG3 - Gender equality and empowerment of women in Timor-Leste

    Use the UN statistics and The World Fact Book to create a table contrasting the numbers of women and men:

  • Population – women/100 men
  • Health – life expectancy at birth
  • Education – primary and secondary enrolment rate; literacy rate
  • Work – distribution of labour force by status in employment
  • Political decision making – number of parliamentary seats held by women.

Write a generalisation about the overall equality of men and women in Timor-Leste based on these statistics.

View the two videos MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women and MDG 5: Improve maternal health. 
Read the case study Empowerment of literacy.

Describe what life might have been like for the Timor-Leste women before the literacy and maternal health programs. You could use the following key words: isolation, exclusion, gender differences, poverty, human rights, health, and education.

the following table explaining how each of the following groups is working towards empowering women and improving their human rights.

GroupStrategies to improve women's rights
Prominent Timor-Leste women 
Timor-Leste community groups 
Australian volunteers 
Australian Government 

Use this information to discuss the factors that facilitated and hindered the improvement of equality for women.

Write a paragraph explaining how community groups, national (including Australian) governments and non-government organisations can help improve access to human rights through focusing on the MDGs based on your learning in this activity. Conclude by discussing the importantance of partnerships to improve access to human rights. The following headings will help you structure your paragraph:

  • key statement
  • 3–5 supporting ideas
  • summarising statement. 

Activity 3: Improving access to human rights

Students examine the special rights for children (people under 18 years) and analyse how young people can improve access to rights for themselves and others.

Revisit the list of rights you wrote in Activity 1.

  • Doyou feel that you have full access to these rights? 
  • Are the rights of all young people in Australia protected in the same way?
  • Do you feel vulnerable about some of your rights? If so, why?
  • What are some of the strategies used by communities and governments in Australia to make sure that the rights of all young people are protected?

Read the information about the Convention on the Rights of a Child.

Discuss why young people under the age of 18 need a specific document identifying their rights.
Use country links to UNICEF programs supporting children’s rights to research with a partner the main problems facing a focus country and how they are being addressed. Report to the rest of the class.
List the strategies in which adolescents are helping others.

Analyse the UNICEF clip, Adolescence: an age of opportunity and one-minute grabs produced by young people.
Answer the following questions:

  • What are some of the factors impacting on adolescents' access to human rights?
  • What role do adolescents play in determining access to human rights?
  • What are some of the strategies employed by UNICEF to empower adolescents?

Design a one-minute presentation highlighting the need to support children's rights in Australia. Think about how you want to present your information. It may be a short film, a piece of music, a short play, a dance or a photograph display. There are a number of web 2.0 tools that can assist you with online presentations.

Share your end product in the classroom or the school.

Contributors' notes

Francine Smith said:

25 February 2014

A group of teachers at a recent conference in SA explored their personal sense of well-being. Each teacher jotted down three or four of the most important subjective factors that contribute to their sense of well-being. I thought readers of this page might be interested to see what the teachers nominated as most important, and the number of teachers who nominated each factor: Good health (8); Family/happy family life (4);Satisfaction linked to basic human needs (3); Good nutrition (2); Set of beliefs or values (2); Freedom to make choices (2); Safety (2); Enough for Basics/income security (2); Sense of community (2); Good relationships (2); Work/leisure balance (2); freedom/democracy (1); Inner harmony (1); Sense of purpose (2); Hope for the future (1); Right to travel overseas (1); Identity (1). After completing this exercise, the teachers linked these factors to two global 'agendas' to improve well-being for everyone: the Millennium Development Goals and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. They found plenty of links in both documents!

Contribution guidelines

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Village women experience new freedom through learning and talking together, in Timor-Leste.
Photo by Erin McKinnon/IWDA
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Village women experience new freedom through learning and talking together, in Timor-Leste. Photo by Erin McKinnon/IWDA