Excerpts from the ENS Schools Outreach Toolkit
The ENS Toolkit, for students aged 15 – 17, reflects on the key question “what is childhood statelessness and why is it a problem? It is designed to be taught in three class periods. Through this programme, students will be helped to reflect on the role that nationality plays in their lives, learn why some children have no nationality, understand how statelessness affects children and develop arguments against childhood statelessness. Below are two activities that have been taken from the Toolkit.
Activity 1a. My nationality – Belonging (15-20 minutes)
Start the activity by holding up the (picture of) a passport. Ask the students: “what is this?” and “what is it for?” Collect a few different answers then summarise the key points.
Key points: The passport is a travel document and a type of identity document; it is for establishing your identity and nationality, for instance when you want to cross an international border; it is also the document in which an entry visa can be attached, for instance for visiting a country as a tourist.
Next, ask the students who has a passport (they can raise their hand if they do). Ask one of the students who has a passport to explain how they got it. Can they explain what they had to do? Who issues the passport? Who else can get one?
Key points: Probably not all students have a passport because they are under the age of majority and may not yet have needed one, they may not have travelled much yet or – if inside the EU – they may travel on a national ID card; a passport is issued by the national authorities / government of the country of which they are a national; to apply for one, certain documents/paperwork need to be completed, a passport photo handed in and probably a fee paid; passports are usually only issued to people who hold the nationality of the country – they are proof of ‘membership’, i.e. nationality.
Next, ask the students which nationality they have. Do they have the nationality of the country the school is in? Or another country? Or more than one? Can they explain when, why and how they got their nationality? How do those students who do not have a passport, know that they have a nationality?
Optional: if there is still time within this assignment, recap what different ways there are that a person can get a nationality (family and territory links), then as, can the students think of a reason why nationality is given in these ways? What does this have to do with belonging?
Key points: Link through family = link to culture through upbringing, close connection to the ‘tribe’ or community, way to keep nationality ‘within the group’, ethnic conception of belonging. Link through territory = link to society through place in which a person grows up and participates, close connection to land, way to integrate immigrants and forge new belonging.
CLASSROOM ASSIGNMENT FOR WEEK 1, “Missing out on nationality” Picture 1
- What can you see in this picture? Which details stand out to you when looking at this photograph?
- How many people can you see on this photograph? How old do you think these children would be?
- What can you tell about the environment when looking at how the picture of taken (Do you think this is a house or not? What other things do you see, such as clothes, wood/ machines outside).
- When looking at how the picture is taken, why do you think the photographer chose to photograph the girl (the two kids) standing behind the window? Why do you think the photographer did not decide to directly photograph the girl/ kids posing?
- What can you tell from the girl’s facial expression/ body language? And what about the boy’s body language?
- What do you think the children are doing there (i.e. does it seem they are playing or rather bored?)
- Do you think these children can go to school?
- Do you think they can see a doctor when they feel sick?
- Do you think they can enjoy living in a warm house and that their parents can give them a warm home and basic necessities?
- What message do you get from this picture? How do you think this message conveys any of the human rights problems that have been discussed earlier in class (i.e. the right to education, the right to healthcare)
- How do you think being stateless would make you feel? When looking at this picture, what words would you use to describe this girl’s situation of statelessness?
Background on the picture to help with discussion with the students…
This photograph is from the series ‘Legally invisible in Serbia’ and was taken in 2014 (can be viewed in Praxis slideshow, http://www.praxis.org.rs/praxis_gallery/by/greg_constantine.html):
“Roma throughout Serbia are some of the most vulnerable people in the country. Though many Roma were born in Serbia or have lived in Serbia for decades, many continue to be unsuccessful in proving their identity, registering their birth or acquiring citizenship and are ‘legally invisible’, like this young girl who lives in an informal Roma settlement in Belgrade. Recent changes in Serbian court procedures for the determination of date & place of birth have helped Roma in Serbia receive proper birth registration, but many have not benefited from the recent changes and continue to be at risk of statelessness because they still face challenges in acquiring documentation and citizenship”