June 8, 2018
By Elizabeth A. Kaine
Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), yesterday, 7th June, launched the Human Rights Peace Clubs in secondary schools.
The launching took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference hall, Tower Hill in Freetown.
The Schools’ Peace Clubs are geared towards building a culture of and awareness about human rights in schools.
Speaking during the launch, Chairman of HRCSL Rev. Usman J. Fornah said the reason for the establishment of Peace Clubs in schools was to increase human right awareness and voluntary action in schools and the communities, with a target of training secondary schools teachers and pupils about human rights.
“Sierra Leone has been encouraged to collaboratively work with the Human Rights Commission through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish this initiative in all secondary schools as national agenda,” Rev. Fornah said.
He said that with the help of UNDP, they were able to access some funds to set up the Peace Clubs in various secondary schools.
He said the commission decided to set up the initiative for pupils and introduce civic and human rights culture in schools so as to empower pupils about their civic rights, duties and responsibilities as enshrined in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Ali Kabba stated that government was taking concrete steps to endorse a national programme pioneered by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and relevant government ministries to actualise part of President Bio’s manifesto commitment to the people of Sierra Leone.
He added that human rights and Peace Clubs were consistent with the provisions of the Human Rights Act of 2007.
“This Act calls for the setting up of structures, policies and programmes necessary to improving the welfare and rights of children in this country. The Human Rights Peace Clubs will therefore add to existing structures designed to protect the rights of every child,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mohamed Haji Kella, said the launch of the Peace Clubs in schools did not come as a surprise to them.
“However, I am here to give you just two key words: to say to the young people firstly to understand human rights and secondly to know that human rights are not only obligation, but also actively alive and kicking. You should know that the issue is not an event but a process and that the process also means learning and understanding your roles, duties and obligations,” he said.
“I’m here today to particularly admonish the young people that they are not here today to launch this programme just for the moment, but also for the future. And I want to thank the minister for making it possible for these pupils to be here.”
Principal of Russel Technical Secondary School, Joko C. R. Venn, commended the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone for taking the important venture in launching Peace Clubs in secondary schools.
“People should not learn to teach an old dog a new thing but allow it to be taught when it is still young so as it grows older it grows with it. And the knowledge of that thing will grow more,” he said.