The Jakarta Post
Munir Said Thalib's struggle to uncover rights violation cases, from the murder of labor activist Marsinah in 1994 to the disappearance of 24 students in Jakarta in the early reform period, is perpetuated at the Omah Munir museum in Batu, his hometown.
The museum, established on Dec. 8, 2013, aims to provide audiovisual information about the late Munir,
a distinguished rights activist, and his battle to uphold human rights in Indonesia.
Omah Munir recently developed a new learning module to educate the younger generation on rights. Bearing a picture of Munir on the cover, the module has been designed to further enrich the subject of Pancasila State Ideology and Civics Education (PPKn) for junior high school students.
This module went through a trial in August 2015 at four schools: East Java's State Junior High School (SMPN) 1 in Batu, Madrasah Tsanawiyah (Islamic junior high school) Surya Buana in Malang as well as SMPN 2 and 3 in Bogor, West Java.
'It's both absorbing and interesting,' said Kautsar L. Ramadan, 13, a student at Surya Buana, at the end of January. His schoolmate Yusuf Alimada, 14, said that had began to better understand human rights. 'I was once a bullying victim and a harasser myself,' he admitted.
Azfar Arfakh, who also discovered the module through Surya Buana, described the module learning method, combining each subject with an art, such as drama, as both fun and suitable. This format made it easier for Azfar to have discussions with his peers and teachers. 'I became aware of human rights as related to the status of citizens,' he said.
Miftakus Saadah, Surya Buana's civics teacher, regards the module as beneficial due to its active and creative content. 'After the trial, some adjustment should be made with regard to time allocation and substance improvement,' said Miftakus.
Although the module deals with relevant agencies and human rights in general, students have become more critical in nature and many questioned why Munir and other activists had been killed and also why corruption had remained widespread in the country.
Among the sensitive issues discussed by students is the topic of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT). 'This issue is a hot topic of debate among teenage students,' noted Mitfakus, adding that they asked about LGBT rights.
Such matters are not contained in the module. 'As our school is Islamic based, we provide our students with an understanding of the issue from a religious perspective,' said Miftakus.
Fifin Endriana, Surya Buana's vice principal for curricular affairs, referred to LGBT's unclear links with the definition of human rights. 'This makes some students confused about how and where LGBT circles are able to exercise their rights,' she revealed.
Yet Fifin considered the module's discussion sessions to have been an appropriate medium for teachers to convey the substance under review because of the many critical questions that would normally be difficult to answer in the normal process of study.
The critical attitude of SMP students elicited a comment from Salma 'Fifi' Safitri, a volunteer at Omah Munir. 'The LGBT issue isn't just a matter of sexuality. In the concept of human rights, it's more about whether they should be mistreated while no crime or harm is done,' she said.
Fifi continued that LGBT people should not be isolated, discriminated against and subjected to violence. 'They reserve the rights to education and health like other citizens,' said the former executive director of Omah Munir.
But Fifi acknowledged this issue as input for Omah Munir, a suggestion to arrange a workshop to enhance the module's substance. The law graduate of Malang's Brawijaya University said the module had been created due to the assumption that human rights tended to be concerned with the murder or disappearance of activists.
Fifi emphasized that human rights had a broader sense as rights abuses can occur in various aspects of human life and from an early age. For example, the large number of children deprived of schooling and the many extramarital pregnancies among youth are rights violations.
'The human rights concept isn't a dogma to be learned by heart because basically it nurtures mutual appreciation,' said Fifi. The module was jointly compiled by several PPKn teachers, rights activists and children's book writers.
'Among the rights infringements students should be aware of are bullying within and outside of school and cribbing during examinations, which is seen as the seed of corruption,' she added, stressing the important role of the module to prevent students from becoming human rights victims or abusers.
Originally printed in 200 volumes, the module was launched after having progressed through a curriculum analysis, workshop and piloting at the four aforementioned SMPs. Rather than referencing legal provisions on human rights violations, the module concentrates on the fundamentals of human rights and contains a series of games.
'There are four fundamentals: introduction to human rights; human rights, Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution; human rights in Indonesia; and human rights around us,' explained Fifi.
By the end of 2015, 1,000 volumes had been printed and distributed to schools in nearly all regions across Indonesia. It applies a fun learning method, which is in line with the 2013 curriculum and is equipped with learning aids concerning human rights implementation in the world and tables of the kinds of human rights recognized by Indonesia.
The learning aids include the facial masks of Indonesian human rights activists such as, of course, Munir, Udin who was a Bernas daily journalist killed due to his reporting work and Marsinah, a worker murdered as a result of her fight for labor rights.
Fiti hopes this module may soon be integrated into school lessons, adding that students would subsequently understand human rights earlier.
Today, the civil and political freedom of citizens is protected by law. 'The problem is that law enforcement is yet to be properly carried out and thus rights violations keep occurring,' she emphasized.
Suciwati, Munir's widow, said that she would strive for the continued use of the module, after improving its content. 'There will certainly be further enhancement because many areas of human rights are yet to be understood by youth,' the chairwoman of Omah Munir's executive board said.
Besides receiving a positive response from those teachers who trialled the module in schools last year, according to Suciwati, during visits to Omah Munir, many teachers from outside of Java have shown an interest.
'Therefore, Omah Munir will strive to keep popularizing this module in the hope that, with speedy improvement, it can be promptly applied to the curriculum at various schools,' she said. The museum has also planned to coordinate with both Madrasah, Christian and Catholic schools for this purpose.
'At least their teachers can explain the link between the religious context of rights and rights as an inter-human concern,' added Suciwati, envisaging the module's further development for use by all students from primary school to senior high school levels.
' Photos by JP/Nedi Putra AW