The Humanist principles which the schools supported by the Trust uphold are those expressed in the 2002 Amsterdam Declaration of the World Humanist Congress (Amsterdam Declaration) which states:
Amsterdam Declaration 2002
Humanism is the outcome of a long tradition of free thought that has inspired many of the world’s great thinkers and creative artists and gave rise to science itself.
The fundamentals of modern Humanism are as follows:
- Humanism is ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.
- Humanism is rational. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.
- Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.
- Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognises our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.
- Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion. The world’s major religions claim to be based on revelations fixed for all time, and many seek to impose their world-views on all of humanity. Humanism recognises that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process of observation, evaluation and revision.
- Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognises the transforming power of art. Humanism affirms the importance of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts for personal development and fulfilment.
- Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times.
“Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.”
The American Humaist Association expressed this graphically as:
Humanist Schools’ Mission
UHST works with the Uganda Humanist Schools Association (UHSA) to help member schools become high achieving by embracing humanist values.
Working together we design materials that schools can use to promote a Positive Humanist Ethos. The following PowerPoint presentations are examples of the materials which have been used to induct staff in the schools:
Some of the key principles are set out below.
The Humanist Schools believe they have a duty of care to every student, who has the right to expect:
- The highest standard of education providing knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for success in the modern world.
- A happy and purposeful schooling with abundant opportunities for personal development.
- Teachers who strive hard to develop the capabilities of every student.
- A safe, disciplined and caring environment, which is free from physical and verbal abuse.
- Teachers and students who work together in mutual respect.
Every Humanist school aims to promote the following values:
- DIGNITY: Proclaim the natural dignity and worth of all human beings
- RESPECT: Respect the life and property of others
- TOLERANCE: Be tolerant of others beliefs and life styles
- SHARING: Share with those less fortunate and assist those in need
- COLLABORATION: Work cooperatively with others to achieve shared goals
- RATIONALITY: Use Reason, Logic and Science to solve life’s problems.
- CONSERVATION: Conserve and improve the Earth’s natural environment.
- NON-VIOLENCE: Resolve differences and conflicts peacefully
- DEMOCRACY: Respect democracy and human rights
- EDUCATION: Use every opportunity to develop ones knowledge and talents
Each school has appointed a Humanist counsellor whose task is to encourage students to become active citizens by:
- Organising weekly debates on issues of human interest.
- Running a club for children to promote humanist activities.
- Promoting the celebration of important days in human achievement.
- Arranging charitable activities in the local community.
- Mobilising students and staff to protect the local environment.
The Humanist Counsellor is a member of the school’s disciplinary committee.
All schools require their teaching staff to sign the following:
In accepting a teaching position at this Humanist school I agree to uphold the school’s aims and agree that, at all times, I will:
- Work to create a tolerant, caring community based on mutual respect.
- Refrain from all forms of physical and verbal violence towards students.
I will strive to:
- Teach with creativity and variety
- Understand that students learn through enquiry and action
- Use only positive discipline
- Promote student self-esteem and pridein their school and community
- Recognise that every child matters
Signed by Teacher: