Young Voices in Sierra Leone are Leading Human Rights and Peace Clubs in Schools, Supported by UNDP & Irish Aid
July 20, 2022
16-year-old Adama Kamara is the Vice President of Harford Secondary School for Girls Human Rights and Peace Club in Moyamba District. For most of her childhood until now, she didn’t know that human rights also protect children.
In 2022, Aminata’s school was among five selected schools in Moyamba District to be part of a UNDP-Irish Aid supported training on the concepts of human rights and peacebuilding, leading to the formation of Human Rights and Peace Clubs. This initiative was led by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone. Adama was lucky to be among the first set of 25 pupils from the five schools in her district who participated in the training and proud to have co-led the formation of the Human Rights and Peace Club in her school.
Several months later, Adama is using her new skills to educate other pupils in her school during devotions and by one-on-one engagements on human rights and responsibilities, peace and cohesion, sexual and gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, the country’s Child Rights Act, and other national laws and international human rights instruments.
“The Human Rights and Peace Club in my school is also serving as a platform to voice out other pupils’ concerns who now feel more confident to bring some of their issues to the club’s membership. I am also more confident now to speak on peace and human rights issues than before the establishment of the Human Rights and Peace Clubs,”Adama posited.
15-year-old Johanes Junior Mayango is in Junior Secondary School (JSS-2) at the Saint Michael Secondary School Moyamba District, and he serves as an Adviser to his school’s Human Rights and Peace Club. He joins the club’s weekly Tuesday talk with other pupils to promote human rights and peace while encouraging good relations and harmony among pupils.
Following the human rights and peace club engagements his executive has successfully organised both in his school and within neighboring communities, 15-year-old Johanes Junior Mayango now considers himself a human rights and child advocate who is determined to educate the world about child rights as he gives away his passion for his task at hand with a ray of smiles.
In Bombali District, another five selected schools (Saint Francis, Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood Secondary School, Birch Memorial Secondary School, and Saint Joseph Secondary School) successfully established their schools’ Human Rights and Peace Clubs in 2019 with a membership of 30 pupils per school.
“Our intention is to empower pupils and their surrounding communities to imbibe a common culture that enables the promotion and protection of human rights,” Says Alie B. Sesay, UNDP Snr. Human Rights and Rule of Law Officer.
The establishment of Human Rights and Peace Clubs across Africa is integral to the ‘Catch Them Young’ initiative of the Africa Union. With funding from Irish Aid and UNDP Sierra Leone, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone has established a total of fifty-four (54) Human Rights and Peace Clubs in the country, guided by the Memorandum of Understanding and byelaws.