Upon discussing with Mary Harney and Fionna Fox what form our Human Rights Law Clinic project would take, we concluded that education was vital as a form of memorialisation. We began to design a pilot programme that could be taught at secondary school level to Transition Year (TY) students. We observed that the national curriculum, across multiple relevant subjects including History and Politics and Society, fails to include abuses in Ireland’s Church-run, State-supported institutions and in the adoption / family separation system. We saw an opportunity to address this.
The purposes of the pilot programme are: to teach students basic information about people’s experiences in religious-run, State-supported institutions and family separation system; to examine the role of human rights law and the state’s obligations in relation to the serious abuses perpetrated; and to explore what survivors and adopted people need and are entitled to now and into the future, including redress, access to justice and reforms to prevent repetition.
We hope that our resources will form a lesson plan that can be easily taught across secondary schools.
We have created a teachers guidebook, and PowerPoint presentation slides and accompanying scripts to ensure that the lesson plan can be easily incorporated into a plethora of learning environments. Our educational archive, with a range of useful web links, is intended to enable students to continue their own research.
Our PowerPoint presentation is an example of how teachers could integrate the lesson plan into their specific teaching environment. As we are based in the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, we have also created a site-specific case study, focusing on institutional abuses suffered in Galway.