Ateneo de Manila Senior High School Students Engage in Human Rights Lecture Series




In continuation of the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate’s (SJSA) commitment to promoting human rights awareness, Ateneo de Manila Senior High School students recently participated in a week-long Human Rights Lecture Series. This initiative, spearheaded by Fr. Nono Alfonso SJ, JesCom Executive Director and Chair of the Province Commission on the Social Apostolate, aimed to deepen the understanding and appreciation of human rights among the youth. 

The lecture series, which ran from March 4 to 8, 2024, marked a significant effort following the success of the “Karapatang Pantao, Karapatan ng Bawat Pilipino” Human Rights Festival held last December 2023. The SJSA, along with Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) and the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP), collaborated to bring this initiative to fruition.

Over the course of five consecutive days, 24 different Grade 11 sections of the Ateneo Senior High School engaged in enriching discussions on human rights during their Tulong Dunong class times as part of their Catholic Social Teaching (CST) Fest activity. Volunteer teachers from various backgrounds, including school administrators, university professors, NGO workers, and master’s students, facilitated the lectures.

To ensure the effectiveness of the sessions, IDEALS provided comprehensive training for the volunteer teachers, focusing on chapters from IDEAL’s “Karapatang Pantao 101” module. This module, developed with input from CEAP and the Human Rights Education and Promotion Office (HREPO) of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), was designed to integrate human rights lessons, tailored for high school students, into Araling Panlipunan classes. 

The lectures covered fundamental topics, including the universal nature of human rights and their historical evolution. Students delved into pivotal moments in Philippine history, such as the establishment of the Commission on Human Rights under the 1987 Constitution, gaining insight into how human rights protect individual dignity and curb abuses of power.

Moreover, the series addressed contemporary threats to human rights, such as extrajudicial killings, press freedom, indigenous peoples’ rights, and health and wellness. Adding a deeply personal touch to the lectures were real-life accounts shared by employees of Silingan Coffee, which provided students with firsthand perspectives on the harrowing impact of these issues. Silingan Coffee, in collaboration with Respond and Break the Silence Against the Killings (RESBAK), serves as a platform for families affected by extrajudicial killings to share their stories.

In addition, the lectures also emphasized the role of institutions like families, schools, churches, and local governments in upholding and promoting human rights. Through interactive sessions and workshops, students gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of protecting human dignity in the face of societal challenges.

Looking ahead, SJSA aims to extend similar initiatives to more partner schools, recognizing the importance of nurturing future leaders equipped with a profound understanding of human rights principles. As the country confronts multifaceted sociopolitical challenges, educating and empowering the youth remains paramount in shaping a more just and equitable society.