Activity 1a: Value Placed on Human Rights

Human rights are defined and valued differently around the world. This activity provides students with the opportunity to observe and reflect on these differences. 

Resources Required



  • calculator

Task 1

Imagine that you and a group of classmates are floating high above the world in a hot-air balloon. You have the following ten ‘rights’ in the balloon with you. You have the right to: 

  • be treated equally regardless of gender or race

  • be treated with respect by younger people 

  • education 

  • equal opportunity in the workplace 

  • free speech 

  • independence from your family 

  • life 

  • live in a clean, green environment 

  • social security provided by the government 

  • vote.

Now as a group of up to five students, read Handout: Establishing Priorities.

As the balloon floats along, a mountain appears in the distance. Five of the 'rights' must be thrown out to make the balloon lighter, so that it will rise above the mountain. Remember, once you have discarded the rights they are gone forever.

a) As a class, discuss each of the rights.

b) Divide into groups. Each group member needs to cast a series of votes for the list of rights: 10 votes for the most important, 9 votes for the second-most important, 8 votes for the third-most important rights and so on, down to 1 vote for the least important right.

c) Briefly explain to the other members of your group why you prioritised these rights in the way that you chose.

d) Add up the total number of votes for each right. Cross off the five rights with the least number of votes. 

e) Survey the rest of the class to see which five rights other groups have kept. Which ones have been most commonly kept? Why?   

Task 2

Societies may give different values to different rights, and have different views on or definitions of human rights.

Read Handout: The Culture of Hanic. This provides you with some information about the culture of the people from an imaginary country called Hanic, and how they live.

Imagine you and your classmates are from Hanic. You are in another balloon – again at the start of the flight. This time, the people from Hanic will be choosing the rights, not you.

a) Go through the exercise in Task 1 again, Steps a) to d), with your fresh copy of the Handout: Establishing Priorities – but this time choose the rights the people from Hanic might choose.  

b) Compare the ranking of your group’s rights with that of the people from Hanic. Did you end up keeping similar rights in both cases? Why or why not? 

Activity 1a | Activity 1bActivity 1c 

For the teacher | Human Rights Introduction | 1: What Are Human Rights?

Overview of activities:  Focus Question 1