Humanism and Humanist Schools

Saturday 1134 – 4th November 2018

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For years I considered myself to be an Atheist and knew very little about Humanism but a couple of years ago I did some research around the subject and discovered that I had really been a Humanist all along but just didn’t realise it.  I didn’t like calling myself an Atheist because I think that is quite a negative term. Atheism is a lack of belief or a disbelief in Gods or supernatural beings whereas Humanism is a more positive choice;  a philosophical stance that focuses on the value and agency of human beings.

Here’s a definition of what a Humanist is, from the Humanist Uk website:-

Roughly speaking, the word humanist has come to mean someone who:

  • trusts to the scientific method when it comes to understanding how the universe works and rejects the idea of the supernatural (and is therefore an atheist or agnostic)
  • makes their ethical decisions based on reason, empathy, and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals
  • believes that, in the absence of an afterlife and any discernible purpose to the universe, human beings can act to give their own lives meaning by seeking happiness in this life and helping others to do the same.

Any of you that have followed this blog for some time, (when I was posting a lot !!)  will understand how I think that fits my philosophy on life.  I still have much to learn about Humanism and I’m currently doing an online course which is organised by Humanists UK.  It’s a 6 week course which is run at regular intervals and open to anyone around the world, it’s also free.  You can find out more about the course by clicking HERE

So about 2 years ago I joined Humanist Uk and have attended 2 of their yearly conventions which have both been brilliant.  More recently I joined a local Humanist group that has monthly meetings and the speaker on this Saturday was Paul Ewans who came to speak to us about the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, of which he is a Trustee. It was something I had never heard of before and it was a really interesting presentation.  

Uganda

From the website :- 

The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust was established in November 2008 as a charity to raise funds to support the efforts of Ugandan Humanists, who have founded schools which offer students the alternative of liberal secular-humanist education: 

  • Isaac Newton High School, Katera, Masaka – founded by Peter Kisirinya in 2004
  • Mustard Seed School, Busota, Kamule – founded by Moses Kamya in 2005
  • Kasese Humanist Primary School, Kasese – founded by Robert Bwambale in 2011

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:

  1. The highest standard of education providing knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for success in the modern world.
  2. A happy and purposeful schooling with abundant opportunities for personal development.
  3. Teachers who strive hard to develop the capabilities of every student.
  4. A safe, disciplined and caring environment, which is free from physical and verbal abuse.
  5. Teachers and students who work together in mutual respect.

SCHOOL VALUES

Every Humanist school aims to promote the following values: 

  1. DIGNITY: Proclaim the natural dignity and worth of all human beings
  2. RESPECT: Respect the life and property of others
  3. TOLERANCE: Be tolerant of others beliefs and life styles
  4. SHARING: Share with those less fortunate and assist those in need
  5. COLLABORATION: Work cooperatively with others to achieve shared goals
  6. RATIONALITY: Use Reason, Logic and Science to solve life’s problems.
  7. CONSERVATION: Conserve and improve the Earth’s natural environment.
  8. NON-VIOLENCE: Resolve differences and conflicts peacefully
  9. DEMOCRACY: Respect democracy and human rights
  10. 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.

I just love this teachers pledge don’t you?

All schools require their teaching staff to sign the following:

TEACHERS’ PLEDGE

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 pride in their school and community
  • Recognise that every child matters

Signed by Teacher:

Date:

You can read lots about the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust by clicking HERE  and I hope you will take some time to look over it because there is so much more I could say about the good that the schools are doing, without god. 

What to us would be a few pounds goes a very long way in Uganda and if you would like to make a donation to the trust you can do so by clicking HERE  UHST trustees cover all costs, including visits to Uganda, so every £1 donated goes to supporting the Humanist schools.

These schools are notable and important because Uganda is predominately Christian, approx 84% according to the 2014 census, with about 14% adhering to Islam.  This is not Sunday faith but lived experience for most Ugandans.  Witchcraft though publicly frowned upon, is still rife in the country.   Uganda is theoretically a secular state but the sheer number of believers means that religiously motivated legislation is the norm. For example. as in most African states same sex relationships are criminalised. The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed in 2014 with a penalty of life imprisonment ; an amendment from the originally proposed death penalty !  The schools values are very much needed in Uganda it seems and more than worthy of being supported.

In fact you may not be aware,  I certainly wasn’t, that a 2017 Freedom of Thought Report published  by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, of which Humanist UK is a member, reported that :

“85 countries around the globe ‘exhibit severe discrimination against non-religious individuals’, with several having seen humanists and atheists murdered for their beliefs over the past year” (…) “This past year has seen humanists murdered by mobs in Pakistan, the Maldives, and India. In Pakistan, multiple humanists have been sentenced to death for blasphemy, and a number of bloggers were ‘forcibly disappeared’ by the state. In Saudi Arabia, a man was sentenced to death ‘for atheism’ over a Facebook post, while others remain on death row. In Malaysia, the Government has been ‘hunting down’ atheists, after a photo of a gathering gained publicity. More generally, thirteen countries have laws on the statute books punishing apostasy or blasphemy with death.”

 You can read more about this by clicking HERE

To end on a lighter note you may remember that back in March 2015 I gatecrashed, only photographically you understand, a Humanist wedding in a supermarket.  No really I did ! you can read about it by clicking HERE 

Your thoughts are very welcome as ever.

Saturday Girl signing off. 

You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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The People’s Vote march in London

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Saturday 1136  20th October 2018

If you are new to my blog take a look at my About page here

Warning : strong language on some of the images.

On Saturday 1136  I attended, along with almost ¾ million other people, the march in London for a People’s Vote on the expected Brexit Deal or No Deal . Wasn’t that a TV programme? Deal or No Deal that is.

I might sound like I am making light of it but, of course, it is far from a laughing matter.  The United Kingdom has never been more divided and it feels more and more as if there are going to be no winners whatever the outcome.

The causes of what brought us to a referendum in the first place are manifold but it seems certain that a huge swathe of the population felt as though they had been “left behind” by neoliberalism and globalisation, with many living in areas where industry has died and unemployment high.

The rich have continued to get richer, despite the global crash of 10 years ago, whilst the poor have got poorer; fertile conditions indeed for unrest .

I just want to start by saying that the referendum was never legally binding and the Government should never have said that it would be – Thanks David Cameron – the Prime Minister who walked away from the mess he had got us into.  The proof is here :-

brexit not binding

These people below were asking the right question. Where is David Cameron now ?  I can answer that he is writing his memoirs in a £25,000 Designer shed!  As a multi-millionaire he will be entirely untouched by Brexit.

I could write a thesis on the subject  of Brexit but you’ll be pleased to hear I’m not going to. Instead  I am going to post some photos of placards and people going to, or at ,the march and also the  names of some of the Key people who pushed through Brexit , so you can see why so many of us don’t trust them or the decision.

These 2 photos were taken at King’s Cross station.

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First ,here’s a link to the top 19 Brexiteer promises.  https://infacts.org/cut-keep-list-top-19-brexiteer-promises/  and a link to the biggest donors http://uk.businessinsider.com/twenty-one-biggest-donors-to-the-leave-brexit-campaign-2017-5/#4-lord-edmiston-1000000-18  relevance to this list later.

Also a list of https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/09/brexiters-put-money-offshore-tax-haven

Some of the people who pushed for and I believe utterly misled the people to further careers or feather their own nests.

Boris Johnson, arch two-faced, would-by PM, and hugely influential  Brexiteer ,who said in 2013 he would vote to remain in the EU; who wrote a column for the Telegraph just before he decided to back Leave, 4 months before the referendum  which said of the EU: “This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms. The membership fee seems rather small for all that access. Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?” The column was never published!

https://eu-rope.ideasoneurope.eu/2018/02/14/boris-johnson-remember-what-he-said/

It’s important to note that Johnson is a favourite with the Conservative party membership and the result ,which showed that almost 2/3rds of Conservatives voted to Leave,  might confirm his influence.

Farage – a public school educated , millionaire who pretends to be a working class hero,  who failed to get elected to the House of Commons on 7 occasions but, hugely ironically, has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since 1999. It’s an institution he is vehemently against but he is happy to take a salary from them. He attended only 40.7% of votes between July 2014 and May 2016 , the 2nd worst after a man who has been ill ! Farage represented UKIP , for my overseas readers this is the United Kingdom Independence Party whose sole purpose was to get the UK out of the EU, Ironically it has had lots of MEPs but not MP’s. It’s considered by many to be a racist organisation – more here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Independence_Party_representation_and_election_results

and about Nigel Farage here  Farage racist at school and here – anti-migrant poster 

David Davies – Until recently Brexit secretary who, during the MP’s expenses scandal of 2009, was found to have very excessive claims – you can read about this here – David Davis expenses  Greedy?

In 2011 Davies co-authored a book with 2 other Conservative MP’s entitled The Future of Conservatism: Values Revisited – which called for a 10 per cent cut in the NHS workforce, at the time amounting to 30,800 jobs, in its chapter on the NHS.   A reminder that the leave campaign used the slogan below on a red bus implying that the NHS would get £350 million a week if we left the EU.  More Hypocrisy?

red bus

More reading on the red bus here – red bus 

Other millionaires and Billionaires who funded and supported the Leave campaign :–

Arron Banks, who bankrolled UKIP and Farage,  plenty of controversy here  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arron_Banks

Richard Tice – privately educated millionaire

James Dyson – billionaire inventor who moved all his production from Uk to the far East and is going to be building electric cars in Singapore! – patriotic huh !

Leading Tory Brexiteer and Former Vote Leave Chairman Lord Lawson – he lives in France and has applied for permanent residency there.  Hypocrisy?

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s wealthiest man with an estimated fortune of 21 billion, and a key Leave backer, has decided to leave the UK and live in Monaco where  residents don’t pay tax.  Sir Jim is founder and CEO of the chemicals giant Ineos.  Last year documents released by Friends of the Earth revealed Ineos had lobbied the government to roll back environmental regulations if the UK were to leave the EU. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-ineos-climate-change-laws-lobbying-exploiting-uk-eu-withdrawal-foi-documents-a7665136.html   More self interest?

I could write about MPs Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, John Redwood and Jacob Rees Mogg too but, forgive me,  I am tired of even thinking about them all now !

Uk’s right Wing Press also played a key role in driving Brexit – In particular the Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Times, The Telegraph and the Sun. Most of these papers are owned by either Murdoch, The Barclay Brothers or Lord Rothermere all non-domiciled for Tax purposes, so pay no tax or virtually no tax, in the UK. More self interest?

This is really just a flavour and there are many, many more but I did say this wasn’t going to be a thesis so I’ll stop !

I’m sure many could point to Remain backers who are just as self serving, i.e the aforementioned David Cameron oh and Theresa May.

Back to my original donor list and I’ll just pop this in here –  from 1st January 2019 The Anti Tax Avoidance Directive comes into operation across Europe. Do you think this had anything to do with millionaires and Billionaires supporting Brexit?  https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/company-tax/anti-tax-avoidance-package/anti-tax-avoidance-directive_en

More here – https://medium.com/the-jist/was-eu-tax-evasion-regulation-the-reason-for-the-brexit-referendum-980ba88a8077

A link to another list of all the promises and inducements the Vote Leave Campaign made. Keep a copy and see for yourself how much of it, if any, come true . Click Here – The List 

Add in that the Leave Campaign broke Electoral Law  and is it any wonder so many people marched for another vote?  I don’t think so.  Do you?

For balance I want to end by linking to a very well thought out series of tweets by Paul Mason which I recommend to you.

Here – Paul Mason on Twitter  You don’t have to be on twitter to read it.

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Sorry that this did end up a bit like a thesis and I’m pretty sure there will be many a thesis written on it over the next 50 years!

Oh and here are a couple of aerial photos ( not mine) of the crowds

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Your thoughts are very welcome as ever.

Saturday Girl signing off.

You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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