49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human Rights Education > Education for All?

Education for All?

Do you have a good memory? Now is the time to test it!
Themes Education, Globalisation, Citizenship
Complexity Level 2
Group size 6 - 30
Time 90 minutes
Overview In this activity participants have to locate and match pairs of cards as they think out about the inequalities of educational provision world-wide and how to achieve "Education for All".
Related rights
  • The right to education
  • The right to full development of one's personality
  • The right to equality regardless of gender and social status
  • To reflect on education as a human rights issue
  • To critically analyse the level of access to quality education world-wide
  • To encourage responsibility for attaining the goal of Education for All
  • 1 set of the game cards for every three or four participants
  • 2 sheets of stiff paper or thin card (A4 size) for every three or four participants and glue (optional but preferable)
  • Scissors
  • Paper and pens for notes in part 2
  • Familiarise yourself with the cards.
  • Copy the sheets of game cards and back them with the stiff paper to make the cards more durable. Cut out the 40 cards.Make sure to mix them well so that matching pairs are not adjacent.


The activity is divided into two parts: part 1, the memory game and part 2, reporting on the issues.

Part 1, the memory game (10 minutes)

  1. Explain that there are twenty pairs of cards; each pair comprises a statement card and a picture card. The task is to identify the pairs and to match them. The texts on the cards relate either to the aims of the World Education Forum (WEF), to bring about "education for all", or to general issues of human rights and education.
  2. Tell people how to play. The participants should form small groups of three or four. They should spread the cards face down on the floor. In turn, people turn over two cards. If one (or both) of the cards is a statement card, then the player reads out the text to the rest of the group. If the cards are a pair, then the player keeps them and has another go. If the cards do not match, then s/he turns them over so they lie face down again on the floor in exactly the same spot as they were before. The next player then has a go to turn over two cards. It is a memory game, because people have to memorise where the different cards lie, in order to be able to pick up matching pairs.
  3. The winner is the player who holds the most pairs of cards at the end of the game.

Part 2. Reporting the issues (60 minutes)

  1. Summarise the issues on a flipchart. Ask people to read out the headings on their cards (not the whole statement again) while you write them down.
  2. Ask the group to identify four to six issues which interest them most.
  3. Divide the group into sub-groups of 4 or 5 people. Ask each sub-group to pick two of the issues they would most like to discuss. (Try to organise it so that two different groups discuss the same issue in order to generate more ideas. This will mean that the sub-groups will have to do some negotiating about which issues to discuss.)
  4. When the issues have been agreed and allocated, give the groups 20 minutes to discuss their two chosen issues. The focus of the discussions will differ slightly depending on the card. If the card has a question, this should be answered. If the card has a statement, people should prepare a critical comment.
  5. After 20 minutes, call people into plenary for reporting back. Take each issue in turn. Give each group just 5 minutes to feed back and allow no more than an extra 5 minutes for questions from the floor.
  6. After all the groups have reported on all the issues, move to the debriefing.

Debriefing and evaluation

You will have already had a good discussion about the issues, so now go on to evaluate the game itself and what people learned.

  • Did the participants enjoy the memory game?
  • Was it a good way to start a discussion on the issues of education?
  • How did the discussions in the groups go? Did everyone feel that they could participate?
  • Are there too many challenges? Is it possible to have "education for all"?
  • What can you, your group, your community do to work towards achieving the goal of education for all in your country and/or in developing countries?

Tips for facilitators


The intention in using this technique is to bring an ingredient of fun to the process of gaining information which will be needed for the discussion.

This is a fairly simple activity to facilitate. Just make sure that you have read all the cards before you do the activity. Be sure that you know which card matches with which so that during the game you can offer guidance and verify that pairs are correct. When explaining how to play the game, you may like to illustrate the instructions by showing what one of the pairs looks like.

Some of the cards contain acronyms, for instance WEF (World Education Forum). Make sure that when you introduce the game you explain what these letters stand for (see under "Further information" below).

Note that one-third of the cards contain statements relating to the goals of education for all as stated by the World Education Forum (WEF), Dakar, Senegal in April 2000. The rest of the cards are on human rights and education issues, or on issues that have to be addressed in order to achieve good quality education for all.


If there is not enough time to do part 2, you could use the technique described in the activity "Just a minute" instead. Ask each participant to choose one of the issues on the cards they picked up, and to speak about it for one minute without hesitation or repetition. This is also a good option if you feel that the group needs to improve their oral presentation skills.

Suggestions for follow up

Several issues which come up in the memory game can be pursued in other activities. For instance, if you want to explore the issue of budgets for education and other social needs and the budget spent on militarisation, you can do the activity "Money to spend". Issues relating to child labour and lack of access to education can be explored in the activity "Ashique's story".

If you want to get an overview of the main issues, including education, that are relevant to the debate on development, then you could do the activity, "The path to development" in the all different all equal education pack .

Ideas for action

The memory cards show numerous problems which hamper the "Education for All" project. The group could choose any one of the problems on which to do research, to find ideas for solutions and finally to take action. Refer to chapter 3 on taking action for tips about how to go about this.

Why not write letters to MPs enquiring about what your country is doing in order to fulfil the goals that were set during the World Education Forum?

 Further information

The right to education is one of the recognised social and economic rights. However, while there is a general acceptance and commitment by states to offer free basic education to all, the reality is that free education is not for all, but for a minority.

To face this challenge, the international community gathered in Senegal in the year 2000 for a World Education Forum (WEF). The conference aims were to review the progress made during the 1990s to provide basic education, and to reinvigorate the commitment to Education for All. Some 1100 participants from 164 countries adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, committing themselves to achieving quality basic education for all by 2015. UNESCO was entrusted with the overall responsibility for co-ordinating all the international players and for sustaining the global momentum.

It was acknowledged that different countries face different challenges. For instance, some countries face lack of resources, while others lack the political will. One of the results of the meeting was the acknowledgement that in order to reach and sustain the goals and targets of Education for All, it is necessary to establish broad-based partnerships within countries, supported by co-operation with regional and international agencies and institutions.

During this meeting the fundamental importance of education for sustainable development, peace, the effective participation of society and for sound economies in the twenty-first century was highlighted. A commendable result of the WEF was the setting of specific goals, with specific time limits, as well as the description of actions that must be taken at all levels in order to achieve Education for All. Whether these goals will be reached and the actions carried out is a question that can only be answered if everyone at every level of society is aware of and fights for Education for All.

Source: UNESCO Education for All: World Education Forum Final Report, 2000.

Money & Education
Lack of resources is the main threat to education for all. Without financial means, governments cannot meet their commitments to education for all. It is also a question of standards. Poorly paid teachers and lack of materials jeopardize the quality of education. Without resources, education is meaningless; no money, no education! Do you agree?
Globalisation & Education
Whoever thinks that globalisation only brings advantages to education through access to new technology is wrong! The effects of rapid trade liberalization, and the need for structural adjustment characteristic of globalisation, have threatened the revenue base of governments in several countries, but mainly developing countries. In these circumstances funding for education is often hit very hard.
Food & Education
In developing countries there is a strong view that food and education should come together: a hungry student cannot concentrate properly.
Food is often used as an incentive for parents to send their children to school; if the children were not fed at school, then they would send them out to work instead.
Education & the Internet
In many countries, information technology has become a core part of the education process. It is seen as essential for research and for homework. Many would agree that the Internet has opened new 'ways' for education, but it has also closed some. The gap between developed and developing countries has increased. In many countries not only are there no PCs, there is not even electricity
Education & Alcohol
In many schools/universities, alcohol abuse is a big problem. It prevents students from learning and increases violence.
Most schools have a policy that no alcohol can be brought onto the premises, but this does not seem to work.
What do you think can be done in order to solve this problem?
University (Higher and further) Education
In terms of human rights law, nation states have the duty to provide free basic (primary) education only. Their commitments do not extend to higher or further education.
Should the State's duty be extended to university level? And if so, is it a realistic demand?
Teachers & Education
The quality of teachers/lecturers is sometimes a problem; they may lack experience or training to be top quality educators. There are calls for minimum requirements for teachers/lecturers, such as a teaching degree for school teachers and a doctorate for university lecturers. Are these demands realistic or would they only increase the problem of teacher shortages?
Education & Environment
The lifestyles of the majority of people in European countries are unsustainable. If people are to make informed choices about how to change their lifestyles they need to understand ecological relationships, economics, politics and history. They need intercultural skills and values of responsibility and concern. How would you include education for sustainability into the curriculum?
Free Education
Governments have the duty to guarantee free primary education to all. The reality is that in many countries if a family has no resources to pay for the fees and/or materials, their children cannot go to school
Discipline & Education
Schools and universities in different countries use different means to ensure discipline. Methods include corporal punishment, suspension, extra-work, expulsion and participation in a school or college council. What do you think is the best approach to guarantee discipline in an educational setting?
Women & Education
In developing countries, 78% of girls are in schools, as opposed to almost 86% of boys.
Some 60% of out-of-school children are girls.
One of the goals of the World Education Forum (WEF) is to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and to achieve gender equality in education by 2015.
Peace & Education
"Peace starts at home"
Educational institutions are often seen as students' second homes. Education for peace should then be part of the formal education curriculum as well as being encouraged in non-formal educational settings. How would you include peace education within the formal curriculum?
Education & Equality
Extremes in pre-school enrolment figures range from close to 100% coverage in Bermuda, Malaysia, Belgium and Sweden to 2% or less in countries suffering from war and economic challenges.
Sports & Education
A) Sports need not be compulsory during the entire school period. If time is lacking for other subjects, these should be prioritised.
B) Sports should always be present during the entire school period. It teaches many things that cannot be learnt in other subjects, such as co-operation and full development of body and mind.
Which statement do you agree with?
Education & Militarisation
Even though education and the military are seen as two separate things, they are in reality closely related. In many highly militarised countries a high proportion of the budget is allocated to military expenditure and not enough money is left for the social sector, especially education.
Social Exclusion & Education
Not everyone can be included in the State educational system. Street children, poor children, full-time child workers are usually not catered for by the school state system. In Romania, the foundation "Back to School" caters to the needs of children excluded from the state system - giving them a chance of education and better employment opportunities later in life.
Education & Minorities
The inclusion of minorities in school/universities is a common problem in multicultural societies. Besides the issue of discrimination against the person, differences of religion and language also present the system with challenges . How would you adapt the system and the curriculum to meet the needs of minorities?
Life-Long Learning
Adult illiteracy is a big problem in countries without even basic education. One of the WEF's goals is a 50 % improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015.
Many European countries have made commitments to "life-long learning". However, they fail to deliver adequate further education to adults. What do you think a government's educational priorities should be?
Human Rights Education
Human rights education (HRE) in formal, non-formal or informal education is considered to be a responsibility of the government. Why then in civil society should NGOs be responsible for something that is the government's duty and responsibilit?
Aids/HIV & Education
"The first battle to be won in the war against AIDS is the battle to smash the wall of silence and stigma surrounding it" (Kofi Annan). It is necessary to break the silence to end discrimination and to prevent further transmissions. The HIV/AIDS crisis should be at the centre of national educational agendas. What can be done to fight HIV/AIDS in educational institutions?