Teaching about the Rights of Children - Lessons from Oxfam

The Lessons that follow are but a few that have been developed by Oxfam.  More lessons are available at the Oxfam site: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/resources/rights/

English and Literacy: Needs and wants

Age group: 8-10

Introduction and whole-class activity:

Ask the pupils about the things that they need every day, giving prompts such as food, drink, clothing, space to work or play, communication, health, transport etc. Write up their suggestions on the board.

Group activity:
Ask the pupils in pairs to write down the suggestions under two headings, 'Needs' and 'Wants'. (It may be necessary to include an additional space for anything that the pupils feel doesn't fit under Needs and Wants.) The pairs then make a group of four to compare and discuss results.

Is one list longer than the other? Why is that? Make a list of the pupils' results on the board. Are there any areas where the pupils disagree?


Ask the pupils to look at the list of needs. Encourage them to focus on things they really need to live. What do they think everyone has a right to? What is everyone entitled to?

You may have to prompt the pupils to consider family, shelter, safety, education, play, medicine, friendships etc. Mark the ones the whole class considers are essential for survival. Should these be rights for all children or just children in the class? Are there any other things that all children should be entitled to? Collect all the pupils' suggestions and write them on a chart, to be placed in a prominent place in the classroom for use or reference in future lessons.

English and Literacy: The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Age group: 8-10

Resources: You will need the Worksheet: Articles from the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Introduction and whole-class activity:
Tell the pupils about the international law called The Convention on the Rights of the Child. It was written in 1989 and came into force in 1990. All the countries in the world have agreed to it except the USA and Somalia. All the countries of the world try to make the law work. These rights for children are about what children are allowed to do, and what the people responsible for children have to do to make sure they are happy, healthy and safe. Look at the list of Articles from the Convention (below)
Choose a selection from the list (or all of them if time allows) and ask the pupils to explain what they think each one means and why it is important.

Group activities:

Give each group a copy of the Articles. (You may give all to some groups and a selection to others). Ask each group to select three Articles that they think are particularly important and note down their reasons.


Each group shares their top three Articles, and their reasons for choosing them, with the class. Which were the most popular Articles chosen? Why was this? Do the pupils think that all children are given these rights?


English and Literacy: Exploring rights


Age group: 8-10

You will need:

  • the worksheet: Charles's story (It's Our Right) (below);
  • the worksheet: Children's rights (It's Our Right) (below);
  • the worksheet: Charles's rights (It's Our Right) (below);
  • 14 pieces of sugar paper from the lesson 'Expanded paragraphs';
  • glue and scissors.


Read the text from the worksheet Charles's story (below).

1. What are the important things Charles has to think about in his everyday life?

2. How do these compare with what we have to consider?

3. How does Charles deal with things that we take for granted such as food, shelter, and education?

Give out the 14 pieces of sugar paper to pupils in the class. Which of these rights does Charles have? (Get the pupils to hold high the rights he has and lower those he doesn't have.) Should he be entitled to these rights?

Group activity:

Give out the two worksheets Children's rights (below) and Charles's rights (below). Ask the
pupils to cut and stick the rights from the first worksheet into the appropriate section on the second worksheet under the following headings.

  • Yes, Charles has these rights.
  • No, Charles does not have these rights.
  • I'm not sure.

Share the pupils' results. Go through the worksheets and discuss the following questions:

  • What rights does Charles have?
  • What rights should Charles have?
  • What are the things Charles likes about his life?
  • What does he want to do in the future?
  • What things make life difficult for Charles?
  • Which Children's Rights does Uganda appear to support?
  • Which Children's Rights do the pupils think the government supports?

English and Literacy: Children’s Rights

Worksheet: Charles's story

Hi! My name is Charles Senyange and I am 12, nearly 13. I live with about twenty other boys in an old wagon in the railway yard in Kampala, a city in Uganda. I have to live there because my parents were killed by soldiers three years ago and I ran away and hid here.

We sleep on the floor of the wagon on newspapers, but I also have some empty cardboard boxes and a bed sheet which I have to keep hidden in a safe place during the day or they would be stolen.

I do have a very good friend and we help to look after each other. His name is Musa Umani and we keep each other warm at night when it gets very cold in the wagon.

In the morning I usually go straight to the city market about 10 minutes walk away. It is here that all the lorries arrive with loads of goods to sell. I often pick up loose bananas from the floor where they have fallen and sell them. Sometimes I sell soap which I buy cheaply from one of the lorry drivers.

For my breakfast, which I buy from the hot food stalls in the market, I have black coffee with sugar, and some cassava with beans. For lunch I may have matoke and rice. When I have earned a lot I may buy some meat.

I have one pair of shorts and one shirt which I wash once a week in the river with a bit of soap. I also have a pair of shoes - I found them on the rubbish pile.

The police don't like boys like me working in the market. They think we're going to make trouble. Sometimes they come and chase us away so we have to be on the lookout for them. If they catch us they sometimes take us to the police station and beat us, or they may send us to Naguru, a boys' home. I don't like Naguru because we are treated just like prisoners; we can't walk or go out, and besides, I don't like the food there.

I like my life in the wagon and working in the market - it's a lot better than going to school. I went to school when I was younger and that's where I learnt to speak English.

When I get older I hope to have my own stall at the market and make enough money to rent a house.

English and Literacy: Children’s Rights

Worksheet: Children's rights

  • All children have rights
  • All children have the right to be taken care of by parents or family members
  • All children have the right to be protected
  • All children have the right to be given help and protection if they have no family or parents
  • All children have the right to a name
  • All children have the right to be helped if someone is being cruel or violent towards them
  • All children have the right to a home
  • All children have the right to education and to play
  • All children have the right to medicine if they are sick
  • All children have the right to follow their own religion and not suffer from racial abuse
  • All children have the right to be looked after

English and Literacy: Children’s Rights

Worksheet: Charles's rights

Divide a sheet of paper into two parts: one column heading: Yes, Charles has these rights; the second column heading: No, Charles does not have these rights.