Teaching Tolerance – using cartoons

Teaching Tolerance , this month, is illustrating the power of cartoons to inform and provide opportunities for serious discusssion about issues such as immigration:

Editorial Cartoons: A Historical Example of Immigration Debates

Activities will help students:

  • understand how a cartoon uses irony and caricature to make a political statement
  • understand a cartoon in its historical context
  • connect past and present debates about immigration


Editorial cartoons comment on current political topics. Some topics—like immigration—that are part of today’s political debates have also been part of political debates in the past. This cartoon is an example. This cartoon was published in the March 9, 1882 issue of Puck, the Chinese Exclusion Act became law in May of 1882, so this cartoon was part of the legislative debate then. The Chinese Exclusion Act banned immigration from China; it was the culmination of decades of discrimination against Chinese immigrants, many of whom had come to work in the United States. It was not repealed until World War II, when China was a U.S. ally. (You can read more about the Chinese Exclusion Act here, and the text of the Act here.)

The Cartoon

Puck, a magazine of political commentary and humor, published this cartoon. Because the cartoon is from the past, it looks a bit different from the cartoons you see today. Working with a group, make sure you understand what is going on in the cartoon. What activity is going on in the picture? What do the two captions—1st caption: The Anti-Chinese Wall; 2nd caption: The American Wall Goes Up as the Chinese Original Comes Down—tell you about what is going on? Who is doing the activity? What can you tell about them? How can you tell?

F. Graetz

The artist is F. Graetz. Public domain.

For useful background details about this cartoon, click here.

The Cartoon’s Strategies

Now look at the strategies that make the cartoon “work.”

1. Irony

Remember that irony refers to a situation in which something happens that is the opposite of what was expected. What is ironic about the people in the cartoon doing what they’re doing?

2. Caricature

Caricature is another strategy that cartoonists use to make their points. Caricatures often grossly exaggerate certain features of people or specific stereotypical group features. Caricature makes the people recognizable to readers; it can also make people laugh. You may have seen prominent individuals drawn as caricatures. For example, the size of Barack Obama’s ears is exaggerated in some cartoons, as is the size of Sarah Palin’s hair. Whole groups can be drawn as caricatures, too. For example, law enforcement officers are often shown as extremely beefy and aggressive.

This cartoon uses caricatures to represent specific groups of people. What groups do the caricatures in this cartoon represent? Why do you think the cartoonist used them? How else might he have conveyed the same information? Do you think he made good use of caricature or do you not like it? Why?


What point was the cartoonist making about Chinese immigration?


Research the Chinese Exclusion Act and the current arguments about immigration to the United States. Make a graphic organizer (a Venn diagram or a T chart, for example) comparing the immigration debates during the two time periods, and use it as the basis for a compare-and-contrast essay.

and another example….

Editorial Cartoons: Poverty/Environmental Justice

People who are poor don’t have access to the kinds of resources—good jobs, high-quality education and health care, for example—that people with more money have. One thing they do have access to, unfortunately, is a disproportionate share of environmental problems. You can see why: People who can afford to, live in places far away from oil wells, factories and toxic waste dumps. People with less money more often live near those environmentally undesirable—and often dangerous—places.


Activities will help students:

  • analyze the visual composition of an editorial cartoon
  • understand how a cartoon uses satire to make a political statement
  • interpret images and text in an editorial cartoon


People who are poor don’t have access to the kinds of resources—good jobs, high-quality education and health care, for example—that people with more money have. One thing they do have access to, unfortunately, is a disproportionate share of environmental problems. You can see why: People who can afford to, live in places far away from oil wells, factories and toxic waste dumps. People with less money more often live near those environmentally undesirable—and often dangerous—places.

The term environmental justice refers to efforts to correct this inequality. As a class, agree on a definition of the term “environmental justice.”  Write it here.

Now examine the editorial cartoon below, which addresses the connections between poverty and damage to the natural environment.

Steve Greenberg

Steve Greenberg—VC Reporter, Ventura. Calif. Reprinted with Permission. Teachers may purchase individual cartoons for other lesson plans at PoliticalCartoons.com

The Cartoon’s Strategies

1. Visual Composition

Visual composition refers to the way the objects are situated in a cartoon (or photo or painting). Complete the chart to compare the visual elements of the cartoon that refer to rich and poor. You may first want to define “rich” and “poor.”

Look over the information in your chart. What does the visual composition of the cartoon tell you about the relationship between poverty and pollution?

2. Satire

Now take what you’ve observed about the visual elements of the cartoon and think about another strategy the cartoonist uses: satire. Cartoonists use satire to exaggerate something. Sometimes it’s an action, other times an event or situation. Exaggeration makes it look ridiculous, and so exposes something troubling that the cartoonist is criticizing or wants to change.

Imagine, for example, that you think you have to take too many standardized tests, and you want to make an editorial cartoon that says so. You might show a student looking at her fall schedule and seeing these courses listed: Test-Taking in Math; Test-Taking in English; Test-taking in Social Studies. By suggesting that the student’s classes are all geared to preparing her for the test, the cartoon would be saying that school is more about preparing for the tests that about learning.

How does the cartoonist Steve Greenberg use satire in the cartoon? What does the satire expose? What point does the cartoon make?

It is worth asking students to collect their own examples of cartoons (even better if they can create their own cartoons) and to set up activities for exploring issues through cartoons.


Participation Handbook for Aid Workers

In terms of training and capacity building learning through participation is the key approach. Once you have accepted that ,then trainers and others working with capacity building ask the question -but how? What techniques are available?How do I encourage participation?

INEE has posted some new resources,particularly for aid workers,but can of course be adapted to any situation where empowerment through active participation is necessary.

Groupe URD (Urgence, Rehabilitation, Développement) is pleased to announce the launch of a book:
“Participation Handbook for humanitarian field workers” – Involving crisis-affected people in a humanitarian response). Groupe URD is a research, evaluation and training institute whose area of expertise is humanitarian action and post-crisis reconstruction. They aim to address numerous theoretical and operational challenges faced by the aid sector in crisis and post-crisis contexts to help improve practices and improve the situation of people affected by crisis. In order to develop a tool that responded to the specific needs of humanitarian actors, ALNAPfacilitated the Global Study on Consultation and Participation of Disaster-affected Populations, which was carried out by Groupe URD. An initial version of this manual was tested by different local and international organizations in a variety of countries. The lessons learned have been incorporated into this revised version. The Participation Handbook for humanitarian field workers contains detailed practical advice on the participation of affected people in humanitarian action. It is comprised of three sections:   1. Developing a participatory approach (main issues, key factors, building mutual respect,     communication methods and advice on reviewing your approach);
2. Implementing your participatory approach at every stage of the project cycle (initial assessment,     project design, implementation, monitoring and final evaluation);
3. A list of tools and additional resources (books, internet sites, etc.).
To order hard copies or to download copies for free please go to the URD website here.

Study on Governance Challenges for Education in Fragile Situations

INEE has once again brought its resources together to consider other issues to do with improving the situation in areas of conflict , post conflict and countries which can still be described as ‘fragile states’. Governance is the focus of a new study:

fragile states

The European Commission Study on Governance Challenges for Education in Fragile Situations, part of the Working Group on Education and Fragility’s work plan, has been released. The study includes a synthesis report and eight case-studies – Aceh, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, Somalia and Southern Sudan – which aims to contribute to a better understanding of key governance challenges facing education in different fragile situations, highlighting implications and making recommendations for external support to the education sector.

EC Study on Governance Challenges for Education in Fragile Situations
Education sector fragility and resilience assessments
Based on education sector fragility and resilience assessments, the EC Study examines sector performance and fragility/resilience features. Trends reveal that, overall, there is a degree of correlation between the peaks and troughs of security and political instability, and access to education services.  In terms of resilience, sector governance capacity was found in all the cases studied to be adaptive to its surrounding environment through a diversification of providers, clients/learners and organisational/management/financing arrangements. These adaptations were often found to contribute to the ‘resilience’ and ‘early recovery’ of the education system especially if addressed at an early stage.
Analysis of challenges to education governance
The Study offers an analysis of the broader macro and sector governance challenges related to sector policy, strategy and budget; sector coordination; institutional setting and capacity; performance monitoring systems; macro-economic frameworks; and public financial management (PFM) systems. Some of these challenges include:

  • the underdevelopment of education standards setting and broad-based stakeholder participation in performance monitoring;
  • insufficient utilization of ‘results oriented’ expenditure frameworks and provision of more targeted support for the PFM system; and
  • the need to strengthen sector performance oversight and independent watchdog agencies.

The Study finds evidence that in situations of ongoing fragility or recent emergence from fragility, these challenges are gradually moving higher up on the country and donor sector development agendas, as part of mutual accountability for results and improved aid effectiveness. The Study identifies key ‘enabling factors’ which could meet the identified challenges and better enable transitional phases including:

  • early preparation of medium-term sector plans;
  • a comprehensive and inclusive education reconstruction programme that overcomes previous educational grievances;
  • early building of state organisational capacity to regulate public-private-community education partnerships;
  • early embedding of alternative or accelerated learning strategies and programmes within formal systems to avoid perpetuating over-age entry; and
  • early restoration of state-run teacher payroll, merit-driven teacher recruitment and teacher training systems.

The Study concludes with a set of recommendations for development partners to consider as they work to support education sectors in fragile situations. The recommendations first address programme planning and design, suggesting that development partners work with governments to:

  • look at ways to better embed sector governance assessment, methodology and tools into country assistance programming and design;
  • focus on a smaller number of harmonised priority programmes;
  • look beyond the delivery of primary education, and prioritise skills development linked to livelihood recovery and system/career pathways
  • consider providing early support for the payment of teacher salaries, whilst maintaining short term community contributions and a longer-term perspective for a state paid service
  • accord higher priority to developing ‘teaching service development plans’, and
  • promote state capacity to adopt an enabling role for public-private-community partnerships.

Secondly, the Study’s recommendations address programme implementation, monitoring and learning, suggesting that development partners work with governments to:

  • support NGOs and CBOs to help facilitate capacity building of externally oriented information and communication systems and national education oversight arrangements;
  • set up and support inclusive state/non-state actor coordination mechanisms to formulate medium to longer-term plans;
  • look at ways to make school block grants more policy and results conditional, alongside a well regulated school governance/management capacity development plan;
  • emphasise prioritisation of sustainable education census and information systems;
  • promote early and donor harmonised medium-term public expenditure planning and PFM assessments.

Other resources on education and governance
The European Commission’s new Capacity4Dev group on Education and Development is coordinated by the education sector in EuropeAid. The group will bring together people working in education and development, including Commission staff in Delegations and Headquarters, and anyone else with an interest in the field. It aims to be an interactive site for accessing information and exchanging ideas. Interested individuals can register to leave comments on the Study and other materials as the site develops. To register and contribute, click here.
INEE also has a dedicated webpage on governance. Links to the EC Study as well as other key other resources and materials on governance, including all of the country reports can be found at:www.ineesite.org/governance.

The United Nations Study on Violence against Children – revisited

Although this report has been around for nearly 4 years, it is not up to the UN on its own to implement any recommendations. It is also up to every citizen to make themselves aware of the issues surrounding violence towards children and young people and to take action to remedy mistakes of the past. Those of you who are involved with schools in any way, should ask if there is code of conduct, or a ‘discipline ‘ book or a suggestions box where students can anonymously, if necessary, comment on their treatment as part of their learning. This is just the start…


The United Nations Study on Violence against Children

In October 2006, the Independent Expert for the Secretary-General Study on Violence against Children, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro of Brazil , presented his final report to the UN General Assembly. The Study analyses violence against children in five settings: the home and family; schools and educational settings; care and justice institutions; the work-place; and the community. The Study contains 12 over-arching recommendations and a number of setting specific recommendations that represent a comprehensive framework for follow-up action.

The Study process also resulted in a more detailed World Report on Violence against Children and in child friendly publications. The Study material not available in this page can be found at: www.violencestudy.org

On 19 October 2007, the Independent Expert presented his progress report on the implementation of the Study recommendations to the General-Assembly. Click here to read his statement.

GA resolution A/RES/62/141 established the post of Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children. The resolution encourages the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to cooperate with and support the Special Representative.


The study was guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child which emphasizes children’s rights to physical and personal integrity, and outlines States parties obligations to protect them from “all forms of physical or mental violence”, including sexual and other forms of exploitation, abduction, armed conflict, and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It also obliges the State to enact preventive measures and ensure that all child victims of violence receive the support and assistance they require.

The UN General Assembly called for the study in 2001 acting on the recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child . In overseeing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Committee held two days of general discussion on the issue of violence against children within the family and in school (2001) and state violence against children (2000). The request for an international study on the question of violence against children was an outcome of these days of discussion.

The Study process was supported jointly by OHCHR, UNICEF and WHO.

And from the UNICEF site

Violence is found in schools, institutions (such as orphanages and other residential care), on the streets, in the workplace and in prisons. Children experience violence at home, within their family and from other children. A small proportion of violence against children leads to death, but most often the violence does not even leave visible marks. Yet it is one of the most serious problems affecting children today.

Much violence is hidden. Children may not feel able to report acts of violence for fear of retribution from their abuser. Both child and abuser may see nothing unusual or wrong in the child being subjected to violence. They may not consider an act of violence actually to be violence at all, perhaps viewing it as justifiable and necessary punishment. The child victim may feel ashamed or guilty, believing that the violence was deserved.  This often leads the child to be unwilling to speak about it.

Violence pervades the societies within which children grow up. They see it in the media.  It is part of the economic, cultural and societal norms that make up the child’s environment. It has its roots in issues such as the power relations associated with gender, exclusion, absence of a primary care giver and societal norms that are not protective or respectful of children. Other factors include drugs, availability of firearms, alcohol abuse, unemployment, crime, impunity and cultures of silence. 

Violence can have severe implications for children’s development. In the most severe cases, it can lead to death or injury. However, it can also affect children’s health, their ability to learn or even their willingness to go to school at all. It can lead children to run away from home, exposing them to further risks. Violence also destroys children’s self-confidence and can undermine their ability to be good parents in the future. Children subjected to violence have a heightened risk of depression and suicide in later life.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 40 million children below the age of 15 suffer from abuse and neglect, and require health and social care.
  • A survey in Egypt showed 37 per cent of children reporting being beaten or tied up by their parents, and 26 per cent reporting injuries such as fractures, loss of consciousness or permanent disability as a result of this.
  • Some 36 per cent of Indian mothers told interviewers in a survey that they had hit their children with an object of some sort within the last six months. Ten per cent said they had kicked their child; 29 per cent had pulled their child’s hair;  28 per cent had hit the child with their knuckles; and three per cent said they had punished their child by putting hot peppers in their mouth.
  • A 1995 survey in the United States showed that five per cent of parents asked admitted to disciplining their children through one or more of the following: hitting the child with an object; kicking the child; beating the child; and threatening the child with a knife or gun.
  • Recent South African police statistics show 21,000 cases of child rape or assault reported, against children as young as nine months old. Only an estimated 1 in 36 cases of rape is reported.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child Reaches Majority – a bit late, but worth a look!

I dont know why I did not see this before, but better late than never. Although the Convention was celebrated on it;s 20th birthday last year, this is still worth a look as it will take a long time to really feel that the CRC is being implemented not just in spirit, but felt by all its beneficieries.


18 Candles
The Convention on the Rights of the Child Reaches Majority

This booklet is a present offered to Miss Convention on the occasion of the attainment of her age of majority. It is also as a tribute to all persons who have worked and are continuing to strive to enforce children’s rights. It is offered by: Institut international des droits de l’enfant and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

Download the publication (PDF – 3.5MB)


It is also worth looking at how the implementation of the CRC is monitored.

Committee on the Rights of the Child

Monitoring children’s rights

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. It also monitors implementation of two optional protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially two years after acceding to the Convention and then every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

The Committee reviews additional reports which must be submitted by States who have acceded to the two Optional Protocols to the Convention.

The Committee cannot consider individual complaints, although child rights may be raised before other committees with competence to consider individual complaints.

The Committee meets in Geneva and normally holds three sessions per year consisting of a three-week plenary and a one-week pre-sessional working group. In 2010, the Committee considered reports in two parallel chambers of 9 members each, “as an exceptional and temporary measure”, in order to clear the backlog of reports.

The Committee also publishes its interpretation of the content of human rights provisions, known as general comments on thematic issues and organizes days of general discussion.

For more information about the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, click here.