Peace go with you

Australians have had a long battle coming to terms with difference.  I have been thinking about  peace…not the peace that occurs in non-war zones, but the peace that comes from within and towards each other. I’d like to refer to the recent Invictus Games, held in Sydney, Australia.

Each competitor had incurred physical and mental injuries as part of their role in a zone of conflict. These people have reason to be stained with negative feelings, with disappointment of being robbed of a usual life, with difficulty in connecting with others.

What I saw in the media and on television was celebration of their achievements, compassion and love for their fellow competitors and a fierce national pride at representing their country in their chosen sport, if not in conflict for their country.  We often neglect to recognise those who fought to save our freedom, but somehow sport gives us the opportunity to cheer, to wonder at achievement, to honour those same men and women.

An unconditional acceptance of the uniqueness of all people is fundamental to living in harmony with others. The Invictus Games gives us the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made on our behalf by the courageous human beings who have found some peace within themselves. Their differences in ability have been overshadowed by their determination and effort to challenge stereotypical attitudes to people with disability.

It seems that until we know who we are and can cope with the fact that individuals have differences in ability we will wallow in a shallow existence with the people we live with. Peace reigns with acceptance of each other.

Marilyn can be contacted at

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Child  Rights

Next year it will be thirty years since the ratification of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.

Given the current issue in the USA, of border crossing and of children being separated from families, I thought it timely to look at the Convention.

Article 9 states children should not be separated from their parents unless harm or safety is an issue.

In child friendly terms it says, “You have the right to be with your parents unless it is bad for you.

You have the right to live with a family that cares for you.”

Every five years Australia reports to the United Nations on how Australia is meeting its international obligations to children-how Australia is progressing or not progressing in terms of meeting its obligations to children in Australia under international law.

This year, the Australian Human Rights Commission, led by National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchells, will report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about Australia’s progress in meeting its child rights obligations by 1 November 2018. The Committee monitors Australia’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its optional protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

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Resistance Art


Resistance art is a form of art that emerged in South Africa in the mid-1970s after the Soweto uprising that focused on resisting apartheid and celebrating African strength and unity. Today Protest or Resistance art has become a broad term that refers to creative works that concern or are produced by activists and social movements. It is a form of non violent, creative expression used against many issues. There are also contemporary and historical works and currents of thought that can be characterized in this way.

Visual arts develop critical and creative thinking, can be used as social and cultural practice, can communicate ideas and for the expression of views and beliefs. (Victorian Curriculum)

Learners and educators can join in an exploration at Resistance Art: a UNESCO Human Rights Exploration

Have your classroom celebrate International Day of Human Rights through a series of stimulating and interactive activities. This video-conference will explore how the visual arts can be used as a tool to bring awareness to social issues, conflicts and oppression.

This conference will be focusing on SDG #16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels



Source: BUMS High Rank Submission to Climate Change Review 2017

Sometimes highly politicised issues need another platform to allow us ordinary folk to digest the nitty gritty, the base elements that affect us all.

Coral Bleach, on behalf of the Billionaires United Mining Service, writes for those who know that climate change is real and affects people, not just ordinary people but those in the 1% of the world’s population who garner most of the world’s wealth.

“This is a paradigm example of coal investile dysfunction”

“We will @TurnbullMalcolm, but only if the research focus is on to protect our effluence!”

Follow Coral @TheCoalDiggers for more incite and illuminating discussion

Me, me, me

The recent call for hunkering down, closing borders, keeping out the other is contrary to the global citizen’s position on collaboration, understanding the other and how to disagree with another person’s view. In a world of over 7 billion people the requirement to establish a harmonious and workable relationship with the other at a time of extreme stress on world resources is paramount to well being, productivity, and even survival. From a global perspective this is about interconnection, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, empathy, the value of diversity and peaceful outcomes to conflicting ideas.

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The A in STEAM and climate change. 

We are hearing much about STEM but I’m advocating for the rightful inclusion of the Arts and a place for STEAM.

I am wanting to hear from schools where leadership and educators have supported their learners to respond artistically to the issues surrounding climate change.  This may be in the form of the visual arts, music, theatre, dance, literature and or cinema.

Hoping to be proven wrong, it is my feeling that educators do not highlight climate change in the curriculum.  It’s not a hot topic (pardon the pun).  Traditionally slotted into the curriculum under Science and Geography, many educators are insufficiently informed, too fearful of tackling what they see as a controversial topic or both.  The links to many issues of global significance can be traced to the warming of the planet.

In the sphere beyond the classroom I’ve come across a group called CLIMARTE and a theatre troupe called ClimActs.

CLIMARTE’S mission is to harness the creative power of the arts to inform, engage and inspire action on climate change.  Climarte will present their ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017 festival which will run from 19 April to 14 May 2017. 

ClimActs is an Australian theatre troupe playing a role of peaceful protest to support demands for social justice and human rights.  Using striking spectacle as well as satire to communicate and educate on the urgency of climate change, each act has been carefully created to address an aspect of the climate debate. For instance, the Climate Guardians represent selfless and fearless care and guardianship, the Coal Diggers epitomise the recklessness and insatiable greed of vested interests.

The Climate Guardian Angels in peaceful protest at the COP21 talks in Paris 2015


School leaders and educators, don’t forget the A in STEAM and broaden the opportunities for young people to find their voice and respond to the concerns of their generation.

Don’t forget to contact me if your school is already taking this approach.


Marilyn Snider is an Australian global education activist who promotes a dynamic, self-directed approach where learners explore real world issues and challenges whilst delving into deeper and more satisfying conceptual understandings. Creativity, critical analysis and action are hallmarks of her work.



Who is a refugee?

World Refugee week takes place from Sunday 19 June to Saturday 25 June. Many students and teachers find the terms ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’ confusing.  I encourage schools to acknowledge the week and teach their students at least these definitions:

Who is a refugee? 
Any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country.
Who is an asylum seeker?  A person  who has applied for protection as a refugee, but whose claims have not yet been recognised by a government. However, since recognition by a government is not required to meet the definition of a refugee, an asylum seeker may also be at the same time a refugee.
Who is a migrant? A migrant is a person who makes a conscious choice to leave their country to seek a better life elsewhere. Before they decided to leave their country, migrants can seek information about their new home, study the language and explore employment opportunities. They can plan their travel, take their belongings with them and say goodbye to the important people in their lives. They are free to return home at any time if things don’t work out as they had hoped, if they get homesick or if they wish to visit family members and friends left behind.
You can also find definitions of who is ‘climate refugee‘ and who is an internally displaced person?

Also useful-

The top 20 countries that have granted protection to refugees in the 21st century
Resources to assist teachers

If you are interested in participating in a collaborative global project researching the topic of refugees, please contact me at






Education and human rights

By Marilyn Snider

“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.” Kofi Annan

The Human Right to Education

Quality of life outcomes and social mobility indicators are directly linked to a child’s ability to access quality education. This is particularly relevant for children living in poverty, including those in developing countries.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),  International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recognise the inherent dignity of each person and set out the conditions for enjoyment of individual rights by all; be they economic, social, cultural, civil or political rights.

These treaties and declarations also encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, including the promotion of literacy, science and technical knowledge.

Under these binding legal instruments, every child has the right to free, available and compulsory primary education. This right exists alongside a call for the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, and for these to be available and accessible to every child. Children also have the right to be disciplined at school in a manner consistent with the child’s innate human rights. And to protect the rights of female students, CEDAW mandates that all appropriate measures must be taken to eliminate discrimination against women and girls in the field of education, particularly relating to access and opportunity.

The second Millennium Development Goal (MDG) aimed to achieve universal primary education for all. At the end of the 15-year MDG program, 58 million children of primary school age (roughly six to 11 years old) remained out of school. These children are a reminder of the broken promise to achieve universal primary education by 2015.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics, August 2014 (


The MDGs were quickly followed by the launch of the Sustainable Development agenda to guide development action for the next 15 years. Education is addressed in Sustainable Development Goal 4: To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

But the limited impact of the MDGs on education shows that development goals are not easily attainable. Many issues create obstructions, and most of these are deeply embedded in political, economic, social and cultural systems. The reality is that there limited opportunities to deliver quality universal primary education.

The reasons are many. In most developing country contexts, teachers receive little or no training in the official curriculum or pedagogy. In fact, many teachers may have only a few years more schooling than their students. Teachers are so poorly paid that turning up for work may not be the priority on any given day. There may be pressures of family life, livelihoods, family illness, lack of transport, or unpaid salaries.

For many students affected by extreme poverty, they might be needed to look after siblings or perhaps even a parent, to harvest crops, to work for income, or might themselves be trafficked for income. Schooling then becomes a lesser consideration for those who prioritise that day’s survival over longer term benefits to be gained from education.

War also strikes at the heart of education. Where long-term fighting prevents both students and teachers from safely accessing school, a generation of students is lost, damaging that community’s ability to improve the lives of its members.

“Education, with its immense power to transform, is the platform to impart to students the accountability of humans to themselves and each other, especially to those whose rights are not being met.”

Despite the pessimism, there have been some remarkable successes. The number of out-of-school children of primary school age worldwide fell by 42 per cent between 2000 and 2012. But there are massive problems that still need to be addressed. The UN report Fixing the Broken Promise for All shows the children behind the statistics: the boy pushing a cart in a Kyrgyzstan bazaar to help feed his family; the Yemeni girl pulled out of school to be married off against her will; the Namibian child with an undiagnosed hearing impairment who struggles at school; the Syrian refugee child turned away from one over-burdened school after another.

A Human Rights Curriculum

We must address human rights within the school curriculum, regardless of whether schooling is a daily deliverable – such as in privileged countries – or whether it remains a challenge to provide, such as in countries experiencing extreme poverty and protracted violence.

Human rights awareness underpins social justice, ethical behaviour, intercultural understanding, peaceful conflict resolution and partnerships for development. It promotes critical and creative thinking, and global learning in the classroom delivers these perspectives.

Education, with its immense power to transform, is the platform to teach students about our responsibilities to each other,  especially to those whose rights are under threat.

The Australian Human Rights Commission developed a series of educational resources called Rights Ed to help Australian students gain an understanding of human rights and responsibilities in everyday life.

Other resources for students include:

History of Human Rights – video addressing the history of human rights (suitable for secondary students);

What are Child Rights – video suitable for junior primary students in years 1-4;

Children and Young People’s Rights – video suitable for students in years 5-8;

Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya – 36 pages, suitable for students in years 3-7.

For Every Child by Caroline Castle – a beautifully illustrated book about the CRC.

We are all Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures – picture storybook by Amnesty International celebrating the UDHR.

Marilyn Snider is a global learning consultant involved in curriculum planning on global issues including human rights, social justice, sustainability and intercultural understanding. She has been a teacher for more than 20 years. Her website can be found at

Featured image: City of Boston Archives/Flickr

The voice of persons with disability

PHNOM PENH – “Welcome to our Global Knowledge programme on the Voice of Persons with Disabilities broadcasting from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap province (FM92.25 MHz) and Preah Sihanouk province (FM88.75 MHz).”

Cambodia radio for persons with disability

From inside a crammed studio on the ground of a Buddhist pagoda, the announcement by Ms. Phoum Leakhena, an anchor, made debut for the first time a radio programme by and for people with disabilities. Its mission is to provide an airwave channel for them to make their voices heard and to promote their rights and opportunities as equal members in the Cambodian society.Radio for Persons with Disability

Disability in Cambodia

  • The number of people with disabilities is around 700,000 or 5 percent of the country’s population
  • People with disability face many barriers including physical, social, economic and attitudinal.
  • They lack access to appropriate, quality and affordable healthcare, rehabilitation, education and disability services.

Radio by and for persons with disabilities

Also One man’s story

Find more on global learning



2nd entry: One man’s story

My daughter once said to me, “Cambodia is about the people” and I know now what she means.
With a genocide in the collective living memory of a people, Cambodians have a remarkable outlook.  Forgiveness can be explained by this definition illustrated in a well-known Tibetan Buddhist story about two monks who encounter each other some years after being released from prison where they had been tortured by their captors. “Have you forgiven them?” asks the first. “I will never forgive them! Never!” replies the second. “Well, I guess they still have you in prison, don’t they?” the first says.
In Cambodia there are families who live on less than $1 a day, who live from meal to meal. There are families who grow some rice and during productive seasons, will have enough rice to eat without surplus to trade for money or goods. The Government offers free medical assistance to the poorest families and a discount of 50%  to those who have a little rice.
I met a man from the village of Peak Sneng, who had been shot in the spine during the Khmer Rouge slaughter. The stillness of the night and the gentle breeze under the trees were the backdrop to his story.  He spent three years in hospital undergoing operations to save his life. He later married, had three children and then looked after a fourth child when his daughter became pregnant after a rape attack. His wife left him and went to Thailand. He now looks after three of those chn, one of whom has cerebral palsy. His oldest boy is at Siem Reap at University. Through the love of sport he has become skilled at soccer. Although confined to a wheelchair, in part held together by some rope, has represented his country in a number of overseas competitions. and is the sport teacher at the local junior high school, which by the way, has no soccer field.  We took some soccer balls to the school- a request that came directly from this gentleman.


Buddhist Teachings