Brufut Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School in region two on Friday launched a human rights club in the school.
The club, which is the tenth of its kind in the country was initiated by Beakanyang, a human rights organization in the country and its partners.
In his launch statement on behalf of the regional director, Mr. Malang Kuyateh, a senior education officer from the regional educational directorate 2, thanked Beakanyang and its partners for institutionalizing human rights education programme in schools.
According to him, by teaching students at an early age about human rights would prepare them to become more proactive and responsible citizens and future leaders.
He encouraged students especially club members to take the club seriously while stressing that the initiative is in line with his ministry’s policy of providing quality education to all children.
Delivering the keynote address, Nfamara Jawneh, Executive Director of Beakanyang, said the programme forms part of a six-month pilot project being implemented by his organization.
According to him, the objective of the project is to promote human rights education in schools and to build a culture of human rights in The Gambia.
He added: “It also seeks to popularize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Gambian schools, alleviate the culture of fear in New Gambia and promote good governance and political pluralism.”
“Today we are witnessing an historic moment here as this is the first of its kind in this school and also last but not the least club to be launched by Beakanyang in this pilot phase of our project,” he added.
Jawneh stressed that their wish is to see that the programme covers all upper basic and senior secondary schools in the country by 2020.
The rights activist added that with this program they also want to inspire and nurture a cohort of young human rights defenders and advocates in Gambia as well as to promote social cohesion, peace and unity in New Gambia.
He thanked the US Embassy in Banjul, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and Youth for Human Rights International, USA for complementing the efforts of his organization in promoting human rights education in schools.
“During the past couple of weeks, I have traveled to almost every part of the country advocating human rights and launching rights clubs in various schools. I’ve been overwhelmed with the level of interest among Gambian kids and teachers in knowing their rights. I only hope that we will secure more support from our partners to take this to another level and to sustain the gains already registered because the future of this country lies mainly in the hands of the young people,” he stressed.
Jawneh, who also doubles as Youth for Human Rights Country Coordinator, recalled that during the past 22 years Gambians have witnessed gross human rights violations such as arbitrary arrest and detention, media censorship, disappearances and torture.
“We must never allow such human rights violations to happen again in this country and to do that we must all know our rights and responsibilities towards one another and in nation building,” he said.
Jawneh stressed that human rights are standards that allow all people to live with dignity, freedom, equality, justice, and peace.
Meanwhile, about 300 copies of human rights booklets, manuals and CDs were donated to the school.
Mr. Muhamed Jabby, the principal of Brufut Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School thanked Beakanyang for choosing their school among the lot to benefit from such an important programme.
He assured the rights organization and its partners that the programme will be successful in his school. He also expressed concern over some human rights abuses going on around the world and encouraged Youth for Human Rights International in particular to help address some of such violations especially in Africa.
Muhamed Lamin Manneh, president Brufut Upper Basic and Human Rights Club delivered the vote of thanks and applauded Beakanyang for reaching out to them.
The event ended with a spectacular drama on human rights by the club members and question and answer session.