Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Respecting and protecting human rights

Year level: 3-4

Issue: Human rights

Students explore children’s rights based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They develop a broader understanding of human rights and investigate how, by respecting and protecting human rights, they can make the world a fairer and safer place for all.

Somali children attend an outdoor classroom at the Friends Primary School in Ifo Refugee Camp, Dadaab, Kenya.

Somali children attend an outdoor classroom at the Friends Primary School in Ifo Refugee Camp, Dadaab, Kenya. Photo by Scott Kelleher for AusAID

Interdependence and globalisation, Peace building and conflict resolution, Social justice and human rights

Australian Curriculum links

Learning area


Year 3

Draw connections between personal experiences and the worlds of texts, and share responses with others (ACELT1596)

Year 4

Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning to expand content knowledge, integrating and linking ideas and analysing and evaluating texts (ACELY1692)

General capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Personal and social capability
  • Ethical behavior
  • Intercultural understanding

Cross-curriculum priorities

  • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia

Activity 1: Right to protection

Students explore how they are kept safe and healthy. They clarify their understanding of rights and responsibilities, with a focus on the right of all children to be protected from harm.


  • A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World, Amanda Rayner (ed) 2006, produced in association with UNICEF, Dorling Kindersley, London (and/or other sources for images and stories about children in other places).

Role-play a situation of someone helping others (eg family, community people, healthcare, government) for others to identify what you are doing.

Role-play the following situations showing what you would do and say to help someone who:

  • is feeling sick
  • has no lunch
  • has fallen over
  • is feeling threatened by someone
  • has been lost
  • has not been collected from school
  • has been hit by a car
  • has been in danger
  • has to work in a dangerous situation
  • has nowhere to go to escape danger.

Brainstorm and list words that you associate with helping someone to make sure they are safe (eg caring, protection, support, comfort, friendship, encouragement, understanding).


  • What do ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ mean? Why might it be important to include these in the list?
  • Who helps you to be safe and healthy?
  • Why do they help you?
  • What responsibilities do you have to help yourself?
  • What responsibilities do you have to help others?
  • What does the following statement mean to you? All children should be protected from harm and have the right to live in a safe and caring environment.

Read about children in other places. For example, read pages 66–73 of A Life Like Mine, focusing on the story of Ivana. Determine whether these children have been protected and kept healthy and safe.

Reflect on your discussion and reading about children’s right to be protected and kept healthy and safe. What have you learnt?

Express your understanding in a visual presentation, using images you find or create and your own labels or captions. You could include advertisements and signs that help people learn about living a healthy and safe life (eg immunisation, food, road safety, safety houses).

Activity 2: Right to an education

Students explore the value of education and develop an understanding of why it is an important right.


  • A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World, Amanda Rayner (ed) 2006, produced in association with UNICEF, Dorling Kindersley, London (and/or other sources for images and stories about children’s education in other places).

List activities you do each day that require you to read. Next to each item, write what would happen if you could not do this, and what you could do as a result.

Discuss how reading helps you to:

  • learn about things that interest you
  • remain healthy
  • take part in events
  • let people know what you think
  • be involved in the community
  • prevent others taking advantage of you.

Imagine you cannot read and have been given a small package of white powdery substance with a label and told it is medicine.

  • What would you do with it?
  • What dangers might there be?
  • How could you make use of it safely?

Discuss images and information about children’s education around the world. You could explore the Education section of A Life Like Mine (pages 44–55), Child-friendly schools in Mozambique or Educating girls in Pakistan.

  • List similarities and differences between education in your own life and in other parts of the world.
  • How and why does access to education differ for children around the world?

Draw a concept map of problems associated with a lack of education, and make suggestions for overcoming these. Add a statement about why education is an important right for all children.

Activity 3: Rights for all

Students develop an understanding that basic needs, fairness and safety are not only children’s rights but also human rights.


  • Picture books and other sources of information about people in other countries.

Think and predict

Consider what you have learnt about children’s rights (protection and education). What other areas do you think an agreement to protect children’s rights would address?

Check your predictions by reading the background to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (particularly the four PDFs, ‘Guiding principles’, ‘Survival and development rights’, ‘Protection rights’ and ‘Participation rights’ at

Draw a circle, divide it into three equal sections and label the sections ‘needs’, ‘fairness’ and ‘safety’.


  • how the Convention on the Rights of the Child covers all three areas
  • how needs, fairness and safety relate to rights that all people should have, not only children.

Draw pictures of some ways you experience fairness, safety and having your needs met.

Compare your pictures with those of others in the class. Add or remove items after discussing your ideas.

Read some picture storybooks about people in other countries.

Draw pictures on a circle divided into thirds, as before, to compare these people’s access to having their basic needs met, fairness and safety.

Make a statement about the similarities and differences among people’s access to having their needs met, fairness and safety.

Write one thing you could do to make the world a fairer, safer place.

Activity 4: Taking flight

Students develop an awareness of respecting and protecting the rights of refugees by imaginatively considering an experience of escaping conflict.


Refugees by David Miller (a picture book that tells the story of two ducks whose home is destroyed, forcing them on a journey to find a safe place to live) 2005, Lothian, Melbourne.

Share experiences of moving house or packing for a holiday.

Discuss reasons for moving and how you felt about the change.

Discuss the cover of Refugees. What does the word ‘refugees’ mean? What experiences might lead to a person becoming a refugee?

Predict how you think a story about ducks could relate to refugees.

Read and discuss the story.


  • What disturbed the ducks?
  • Why were they disturbed?
  • Did they have any choice about leaving?
  • Why or why not?
  • How did they feel?
  • How did the other characters in the story feel and what did they do?
  • What would the ducks need to be safe again?
  • How would you help the ducks feel safe again?

Create a map or story to show the ducks’ journey with comments about how the ducks may have felt along the way.

Role-play the story of the ducks. Add a conclusion reflecting on how the ducks and the people may have been able to reach a different and fairer outcome for all.

Make a statement about how you think the story relates to human refugees.

Write a reflection on what you have learnt from this activity and what it makes you think about. How might this influence your response when you hear of refugee stories in the media in future?

Adapted from Browett, Julie & Ashman, Greg 2011,
Thinking Globally: Global Perspectives in the Early Years Classroom,
Education Services Australia, Carlton South, p 107,

Activity 5: Special days for human rights

Students develop an understanding of human rights through designing a calendar of activities for observing international days associated with human rights.

Use the calendar

Identify days that relate to the protection of human rights. These will include Universal Children’s Day on 20 November and Human Rights Day on 10 December, and others that link strongly to rights, such as International Women’s Day, World Health Day, International Day of Disabled Persons, World Refugee Day and World Day of Cultural Diversity.

Choose days to represent in a calendar to be created as a class project.

Work in groups to develop ideas for raising awareness of your chosen day and why it is important.

Create a drawing or photo collection to represent your day.

List an activity that your class could do to mark this day.

Find out about someone who has done something special to influence the way the world respects this human right.

Write a statement about how you could assist others to respect this right better.

Agree on how you will present all your information about the special days and share it with others.

Activity 6: Right the wrongs

Students investigate, plan and implement an advocacy program to improve access to human rights for a selected group.

Select a situation in which people do not have full access to their human rights (eg a case study, a current news item).

Describe (for example, with an amusing story or a cartoon) the situation outlining:

  • which people are involved
  • what is preventing people from having their basic needs met and from being treated as others in their society and feeling safe
  • which organisations are or could be assisting the people
  • how these organisations are assisting or how they could assist.

Plan your response to improve this situation. You could tell people about the situation, raise money to support others who are doing something, or approach key people to suggest how you would like to see them work for change. Plan three things to do. What resources (knowledge, money, time) do you need? Which people will you need to contact?

Carry out your plan and evaluate the response.

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Somali children attend an outdoor classroom at the Friends Primary School in Ifo Refugee Camp, Dadaab, Kenya.
Photo by Scott Kelleher for AusAID
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Somali children attend an outdoor classroom at the Friends Primary School in Ifo Refugee Camp, Dadaab, Kenya. Photo by Scott Kelleher for AusAID