Interschool theatre festival demonstrates youth awareness of human rights issues

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

The Interschool Human Rights Theatre Festival exhibits the high level of awareness amongst primary and secondary school pupils on different human rights issues.

The three day festival organised by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) ran from September 25-27 and saw creative and extensive theatre pieces from seven schools alongside six short but thought-provoking skits by a group of volunteers from the HRCM.

Of the seven schools participating, four schools were from the capital Malé and the remaining three schools from the atolls.

All seven theatre pieces by the schools – two of which were recordings from two schools from the atolls – showed creativity in presenting different human rights issues, with different schools opting for different forms of theatre.

The winning entry featured children from Jalaaluhdheen School – in Haa Dhaalu Kulhudhuhfushi – using a traditional and effective form of theatre in which all of the scenes were presented at the same time to show human rights violations towards migrant workers.

Well laid out scenes brought to life the many situations in which migrant worker rights are violated. Unsafe working conditions, disrespectful customers at a restaurant, and a classroom scenario where the students verbally abused the foreign teacher convinced the judges to select the Jalaaluhdheen piece as the outstanding entry.

Pieces from the other schools focused on disabled people’s rights, with the runner-up entry from the Galolhu Madharsaa exhibiting a well-coordinated piece with excellent visuals, audio, before concluding with a beautiful message.

Skits by the volunteers were based on elderly people’s rights, women’s rights, and children’s rights.

While speaking to Minivan News, HRCM Vice President Ahmed Tholal said that the aim of the festival was for the students to gain a deeper understanding of human rights by actively taking part in the theatre pieces.

“We want to encourage a more creative approach to human rights compared to learning about human rights only through reading or listening material”.

The winning piece suggested the festival had been a success, with excellent awareness shown by the students of the rights of migrant workers, who are believed to amount to more than a hundred and fifty thousand individuals. It also illustrated that violations do not only occur at labor level jobs but also in blue collar posts.

The festival is also noteworthy in its high level of participation of students with special education needs such as participation from Jamaaluhdheen’ class for hearing impaired children (CHIC) and Thulhaadhoo’s Special Educational Needs class, from Baa Atoll.

The children performed on the same platform, and were judged against the same criteria, as the other schools.

The festival which was the first of its kind organised by HRCM was funded by UNICEF with collaboration with Ministry of Education. Additional sponsorship was received from Bandos Island Resort and Muni home care.

Tholal also highlighted other awareness projects which are aimed at school children such as the creation of human rights clubs within the schools and the the recent human rights defender training held at Girifushi to enable youth to facilitate sessions in collaboration with these clubs.