14.06.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

UNESCO Publishes its Freedom of Expression Toolkit: A Guide for Students in Kinyarwanda Adapted to the National Context


UNESCO in collaboration with the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), the National Commission for UNESCO, and supported financially by the Government of Sweden, has republished the UNESCO Freedom of Expression Toolkit: A Guide for Students in Kinyarwanda and adapted it to include Rwandan relevant content for use in secondary and tertiary level educational institutions.

According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. Yet, while freedom of expression is one of the most debated issues of recent times, and much has been written on the topic, few publications have been developed with secondary level youth from developing countries as the principal target audience. However, to become discerning citizens in democratic societies, both girls and boys need to become literate in the concepts and concerns of freedom of expression.

This revised publication—by targeting youth—is an attempt to remedy this existing gap. More specifically, it is the result of an assessment and validation of the original Toolkit (translated into Kinyarwanda) by UNESCO and its partners, including RMC, during a one-day meeting that assembled secondary students and teachers, and tertiary level students, whom are associated with various media clubs across the country.

Participants acknowledged the role and utility of the toolkit to increase knowledge of freedom of expression, particularly given its translation into Kinyarwanda, Rwanda’s most universally spoken language. Moreover, the toolkit content was overall found to be relevant to the Rwandan context and students drew links between the growth of freedom of expression in Rwanda and the growth of media as well as the establishment of self-regulatory bodies—such as RMC—that help guide in areas of safety of journalists, freedom of access to information, the proliferation of local community radio, and rising use of social media whereby people can freely express their opinion and ideas. However, participants and partners alike suggested the publication be updated to include some Rwanda specific content. One participant stated that it “would be useful for additional content to be developed that sensitizes users to existing laws [in Rwanda] that protect people to freely express themselves”.

Participants also explored means and activities by which to use the toolkit within their respective media clubs that can help communities to better express ideas and opinions freely. They requested that UNESCO support the dissemination of the toolkit by i) distributing hardcopies in schools; ii) developing user friendly items such as brochures and leaflets; and iii) sharing all publications through social media, youth clubs and local meetings.

Overall, the Toolkit consists of four major components:

1) Understanding freedom of expression definitions, concepts, and issues;

2) Identifying threats to freedom of expression;

3) Identifying conditions favourable to freedom of expression; and

4) Doing one’s part in promoting and defending freedom of expression through practical activities.

There is no one particular way of utilizing the Toolkit. It can be used as a reference or a starting point on the concepts and issues related to freedom of expression, or it could be used as a source of ideas for activities and projects to promote freedom of expression. The Toolkit also contains extensive lists of other resources related to freedom of expression including websites, directories, etc.

Freedom of Expression toolkit: A guide for students


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