Human Rights in the School

Chapter Six

Democracy

Democracy is the cornerstone of our political system. It is recognized as a principle of human rights by Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:

Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his [or her] country, directly or through freely chosen representatives ... The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.30

The task of educating a population of students is a complicated one and necessitates the appointment of individuals assigned to administer the educational institution. Democratic principles suggest, however, that input from each and every individual involved, including staff, students, volunteers and parents, be sought where possible. Public institutions are designed to accomplish a given objective that ultimately serves the people. Only through democratic decision-making can people develop a sense of ownership of our public institutions and learn the necessary skills to effectively take part in our democratic society. The checklist contained in this chapter suggests guidelines for participatory management that are based on the principle of democracy. The guidelines for student input must be weighed against the students' level of development and the extent to which they are able to accept the corresponding responsibilities, (See Chapter 2).


Democracy Yes Somewhat No Don't Know
1. Does the school curriculum address democracy?



2. Do students have the right to elect and maintain a representative student government?



3. Does the student council have the opportunity to raise funds and to develop its programs and activities?



4. Do students have the right to present their opinions to the student council?



5.Are staff, students and parents clearly informed about school policies and programs?



6.Does the school encourage input and feedback regarding school management practices and school goals and objectives from:
(a) students?




(b) staff?



(c) parents?



7. Do students contribute to school and classroom programs and policies?



8. Do teachers have input into their program planning and student evaluation?



9. Are parents permitted to visit in the classroom?



10. Do parents have the right to elect and maintain a representative parent council?



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