Students Create Human Rights Curriculum in Hope Village, Somalia

In 2015, Dr. Deqo Mohamed, Yale World Fellow and CEO of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, asked the Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for International Human Rights to create the Hope Village Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Curriculum. Six Yale students—five undergraduates and one graduate student—began researching and writing the curriculum in October 2015, drawing inspiration for content and activities from a range of preexisting peace and human rights curricula. The Yale team is now finishing the first year of the curriculum and outlining how it will develop into a four-year program. Lessons are set to begin in October 2016.

The Hope Village Curriculum includes modules on identity and self-representation, human rights principles and law, and post-conflict resolution. The curriculum focuses on empowering students to fight for change in their communities, with an emphasis on the rights of women and girls. Students will not only learn important concepts, they will develop public speaking and leadership skills. They will also learn how to hold their community and country accountable for human rights violations. The curriculum is intended to teach students, many of whom have known only civil war and instability, how to peacefully resolve conflict, value and participate in law, advocate for their own rights, and build a more peaceful, equitable Somalia. These goals are cornerstones of Hope Village’s philosophy.

In order to accommodate the changing population of Hope Village, and to benefit a student who may only be in the Village for a few classes, the activities presume no prior knowledge and don’t rely upon supplies that are hard to obtain. The team intends to include activities, as the curriculum expands, that employ artistic and leadership skills, such as having students present on human rights issues before the Somali Parliament.

The program will be taught in the brand-new high school in Hope Village, which is located just outside Mogadishu. Hope Village offers a variety of services to Somalis displaced by war and conflict—the Dr. Hawa Abdi General Hospital, which sees more than 150 patients a day, the Waqaf-Diblawe Primary School, a sustainable agriculture project, and a women’s education center.