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Rule of Law Education

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

Street Law has worked with partners on every continent to develop a series of 14 lessons to teach young people about the basic elements of rule of law using its signature, interactive, skill-building methodology. 

Street Law is currently designing a roll-out of this program with civil society partners around the globe.

Learn more

Staff

Lee Arbetman

executive director

Lena Morreale Scott

senior program director

Program Vision and Goal

Street Law envisions communities where rule of law is strong—with fair, equal laws and policies; open and transparent government; and respect for fundamental human rights—powered by an engaged citizenry.

Through this initiative, Street Law strives to inspire and equip young people to 1) believe that the rule of law is important, 2) have high expectations of their government and leaders, and 3) advocate for rule of law in their communities. 

Program Description

Street Law aims to work with communities to build a culture of rule of law from the ground up. Through partnerships with local civil society organizations, Street Law will offer young people  the opportunity to learn about how their government works, the rule of law, and how to advocate for changes that will improve their communities.

A strong foundation of rule of law is fundamental for communities that want to offer opportunity and equality to their citizens. While vital, it is not enough to work only with government institutions, political leaders, or the professional legal community to create that foundation. Rule of law will only exist in communities where the people are committed to it—where there is a culture of support for rule of law. We can help build communities that strive to achieve and ensure the rule of law.

Street Law’s powerful programs have been proven to increase knowledge of the law, build the skills necessary for engaging in civic life, and instill beliefs in the importance of law and civic engagement.

The Lessons

The first seven lessons focus on learning specific rule of law concepts (e.g., transparency, accountability, judicial independence, etc.). In the remaining lessons, students design, implement, and reflect on a community-based rule of law project. 

  1. Defining the Rule of Law
  2. Exploring Factors of Rule of Law
  3. Assessing Rule of Law in My Community
  4. Accessing My Government
  5. Limiting Government Power
  6. Controlling Corruption and the Abuse of Power
  7. Ensuring an Independent Judiciary
  8. Identifying Causes and Consequences of Problems  
  9. Prioritizing Problems to Solve
  10. Developing Expertise
  11. Proposing Solutions
  12. Advocating for Your Goal
  13. Publicizing Your Efforts and Taking Action
  14. Assessing Your Project and Celebrating Your Successes

Learn more about the lessons and learning outcomes in the resources tab.

Lesson Overviews and Outcomes

 

Lesson 1: Defining the Rule of Law

Overview

In this lesson, students will engage in several activities to develop their basic understanding of rule of law. They will:

  • Play a game with no rules and discuss the purposes of rules 
  • Role play a scenario in which they must create laws for a new society
  • Develop their own definitions for rule of law and analyze hypothetical situations to identify rule of law
  • Create their own classroom norms to guide discussions
  • Learn about the goals and strategies of young people in China who are working to improve rule of law

In an optional extension activity, students will create a drawing, compose a song, write a skit or use another art form to convey what they envision when they imagine a society that adheres to the rule of law.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms rules, laws, clarifying questions, rule of law, norms and civil disobedience;
  2. Explain the need for rules and laws;
  3. Differentiate between the terms: rules, laws, and norms;
  4. Evaluate criteria for what makes laws legitimate;
  5. Create norms for classroom discussions and activities;
  6. Describe the basic concepts of the rule of law; and
  7. Relate good and fair rules to good governance.
  8. In the extension activity... Construct an original creative work (drawing, song, skit, etc.) using the basic concepts of rule of law.
 

Lesson 2: Exploring Factors of Rule of Law

Overview

In this lesson, students will develop a more comprehensive understanding of the rule of law and its factors. They will:

  • Learn about and then teach their peers about rule of law factors
  • Analyze news stories from around the world to identify rule of law factors 
  • Read and discuss the goals and strategies of young people in Europe who are working to improve rule of law

In an optional extension activity, students will conduct research about news stories from around the world relating to rule of law. Then, they will act as newscasters to report their stories to the rest of the class.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms limited government, corruption, fundamental rights, informal justice, transparent government, and open government;
  2. Describe key factors of rule of law; and
  3. dentify, analyze, and categorize examples of factors of rule of law in news stories.
  4. In the extension activity... Research and investigate news stories relating to the rule of law; and
  5. In the extension activity... Formulate a news report discussing the factors of rule of law found in the news story.
 

Lesson 3: Assessing Rule of Law in My Community

Overview

In this lesson, students will begin assessing the extent to which their community adheres to the rule of law. They will:

  • Work with a partner to write a short story that illustrates one rule of law factor
  • Work in small groups to analyze hypothetical scenarios to practice assessing rule of law factors
  • Brainstorm strategies to improve rule of law in those hypothetical scenarios
  • Participate in a “red light/green light” activity to assess the rule of law in their own country
  • Learn about and reflect on the goals and strategies of a young person in the United States who is working to promote rule of law

In an optional extension activity, students will learn about the World Justice Project and investigate that group’s analysis of rule of law in their country.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms quid pro quo, conviction, tribalism, and civil discourse; 
  2. Author a scenario that reflects the presence or absence of rule of law;
  3. Assess the degree to which rule of law is present in hypothetical situations;
  4. Evaluate the factors of the rule of law in their own country; and
  5. Design steps people can take to improve rule of law in their communities.
  6. In the extension activity... Identify relevant facts about an organization from their website; and
  7. In the extension activity... Contrast the World Justice Project’s evaluation of the rule of law in their nation with their own.
 

Lesson 4: Accessing My Government 

Overview

In this lesson, students will explore the powers and duties of various government officials and where those powers and duties derive from. They will apply that information to determine which official people to contact if they are faced with various situations. They will also contemplate the powers and duties of “regular” people who want to engage with their government. They will:

  • Participate in a “mind walk” to consider how government affects their lives in ordinary ways
  • Research government officials and their powers and then do a role-play to teach their peers what they have learned
  • Create a chart to illustrate government powers and responsibilities
  • Learn about the goals and strategies of young people in Kenya who are working to improve rule of law

In an optional extension activity, students will create a directory of contact information for various government officials they might want to contact.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms government, open government, transparent, legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch;
  2. Illustrate how their government allocates power; 
  3. Describe the responsibilities of major government officials and institutions;
  4. Organize the government officials according to legislative, executive and judicial functions; 
  5. Identify which part of the government they should contact about certain problems or issues; and
  6. Explain the powers and roles of citizens.
  7. In the extension activity... Locate important contact information for their government officials; 
  8. In the extension activity... Assemble a directory for use by themselves, their family and members of the community; and
  9. In the extension activity... Explain how their directories and the expectation of access to government fits with the goals of transparency and open government.
 

Lesson 5: Limiting Government Power 

Overview

In this lesson students will explore how their government’s powers are limited including why powers are separated and how the checks and balances of government power function. They will:

  • Revisit the government organization chart they completed in Lesson 4 to create a graphic representation of the ways power is balanced between different competing parts of government 
  • Discuss how citizens can check the powers of government officials
  • Learn about the ways a young woman in Namibia works to effect change

An optional extension activity, students will work in pairs to create a diagram detailing how different parts of their government check and balance the powers of other parts. Students who wish to use technology could use a graphic design program to create the diagram. 

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms separation of powers and checks and balances;
  2. Demonstrate how different parts of their government limit and balance power;
  3. Explain the ways citizens can limit the powers of their government; and
  4. Interpret how the structure of their government promotes or hinders rule of law.
  5. In the extension activity... Represent graphically the separation and balance of powers in their own government. 
 

Lesson 6: Controlling Corruption and the Abuse of Power

Overview

In this lesson, students will engage in several activities to better understand abuse of power and corruption. They will:

  • Explore how a group of young people in Brazil are trying to end corruption and make the government more open to input from young people
  • Read a script about two young people who are harmed by corruption. At various points in the script, students step out of character to decide the best course of action for the people in the story 
  • Consider options people can take when they suspect a government official of corruption
  • Write a brief reflection about the consequences of corruption and what it might take to change a culture of corruption

In an optional extension and teaching with technology activity, students explore the work of the group Transparency International to learn about that group’s work and to consider its assessment of their country’s level of corruption

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms ombudsperson and whistleblower;
  2. Contrast how people in authority can use power appropriately or inappropriately;
  3. Consider the consequences of corruption and how it can harm society;
  4. Develop questions to help them evaluate which constructive action to take (if any) when they encounter corruption; and
  5. Compare alternatives to fight corruption.
  6. In the extension activity... Review the information on a website of an organization dedicated to fighting corruption; and
  7. In the extension activity... Compare that organization’s assessment of their country’s level of corruption with their own.
 

Lesson 7: Ensuring an Independent Judiciary 

Overview

In this lesson, students will learn about the importance of an independent judiciary to the rule of law. They will also deliberate several options to make judiciaries more independent. They will:

  • Learn about a young person from Morocco who uses rap music to protest against unfair laws, including a judicial system he says is unfair
  • Explore several proposals to make judiciaries as independent as possible
  • Practice discussing, deliberating, and expressing their opinions about the best ways to ensure an independent judiciary

In optional extension activities, students will interview a judge, lawyer, or legal expert about the judiciary. Students could conduct those interviews face-to-face in their classroom or during a visit a court building. Student will write and report on their interviews.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms independent judiciary and deliberate;
  2. Explain the importance of an independent judiciary;
  3. Demonstrate how an independent judiciary supports many basic goals of rule of law such as fairness, justice, and the absence of corruption;
  4. Deliberate alternative ideas for creating a more independent judiciary; and
  5. Defend their decision about the best public policy solutions to create and maintain an independent judiciary.
  6. In the extension activity... Investigate the judiciary further by conducting an interview with a local legal expert; or
  7. In the extension activity... Investigate the judiciary further by visiting a court and questioning a legal expert; and
  8. In the extension activity... Prepare a report/article detailing their findings.
 

Lesson 8: Identifying Causes and Consequences of Problems 

Overview

Beginning with this lesson, students will participate in a series of activities to help them design, implement, and assess their own project to improve rule of law.
This lesson introduces students to the notion that the best solutions to complex community problems address the root causes of problems. They will:

  • Work with partners and teams to choose the best solutions to a simple problem
  • Trace the root causes and speculate about the possible consequences of that simple problem, and then follow that pattern to analyze a more complex, hypothetical community problem
  • Prepare to interview family and friends about challenges their community faces

Beginning with this lesson, Street Law is not suggesting an optional extension activity, rather students should work on a bridge activity between classes. After this class, students will interview family and friends about the most important community problems to solve.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms underlying cause and consequence; 
  2. Identify underlying causes of simple community problems; 
  3. Speculate about the consequences of a community problem; and
  4. Compare and evaluate solutions that address problems in the short-term to solutions that address the root causes of problems.
  5. In the bridge activity... Conduct interviews with two adults in their community discussing local problems.
 

Lesson 9: Prioritizing Problems to Solve

Overview

In this lesson, students will examine a number of problems in their community and analyze them in order to choose an advocacy project. They will:

  • Compile a list of problems in their community, as suggested by the adults and students they interviewed
  • Caucus around the problems that interest them most, investigate them, and choose a community problem to focus on 
  • Learn about the Advocacy Steps to Success and form their advocacy teams

After this lesson and before the next, students will engage in a bridge activity to connect the two lessons. Students will reflect on what they already know about their chosen issue and what they need to learn.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms advocate and caucus; 
  2. Process interview data on problems in their community;
  3. Identify underlying causes of problems in their communities; and 
  4. Form teams to collaborate on an advocacy plan.
  5. Summarize what they know about their advocacy issue; and
  6. In the bridge activity... Identify the information they need to research.
 

Lesson 10: Developing Expertise 

Overview

In this lesson, students will explore ways to develop expertise on the community issue they chose to work on in Lesson 9. They will:

  • Conduct an initial assessment of what they already know about their issue and what they need to learn
  • Explore the variety of possible sources they may use to research and collect information
  • Learn about and reflect on the goals and strategies of a young person in the United States who is working to promote rule of law
  • Develop a plan for collecting and reporting information on their issue

In a bridge activity between this lesson and the next, students will conduct research about the problem they are addressing with their project.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms stakeholder, interest group, and bias;
  2. Evaluate their first impression of a community problem they would like to solve;
  3. Identify and locate useful information for understanding a community problem;
  4. Evaluate the credibility of sources of information available about a community issue;
  5. Assume and delegate responsibilities within their advocacy teams to collect information; and
  6. Develop expertise about a community problem.
  7. In the bridge activity... Locate information about their advocacy issue using a variety of information sources; and 
  8. In the bridge activity... Evaluate different sources of information.
 

Lesson 11: Proposing Solutions

Overview

In this lesson students will decide what they want to accomplish related to their chosen community problem. They will:

  • Share the information they gathered about their problem
  • Choose one underlying cause to focus on and propose a solution that addresses that factor with their team
  • Practice writing goal statements and then write one for their advocacy issue

Between this lesson and the next, students will prepare to contact decision-makers and stakeholders who are affected by the problem the students are trying to solve. They will consider how working with allies can help them succeed.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Propose solutions to community problems;
  2. Write clear, specific, and measurable goal statements; and 
  3. Identify stakeholders and decision-makers for their advocacy project.
  4. In the bridge activity... Ask specific decision-makers, stakeholders, and other allies to support their project.
 

Lesson 12: Advocating For Your Goal

Overview

In this lesson students will learn about a variety of advocacy strategies. They will:

  • Learn about and reflect on the goals and strategies of a young woman in India who is working to promote rule of law
  • Choose one or more advocacy strategies that work best with their advocacy goal 
  • Work to create a plan for implementing their strategy

Between this lesson and the next, students will conduct research to find an article or articles about a community problem (ideally local) and people who are trying to solve it.

Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Describe a variety of advocacy strategies; 
  2. Differentiate and select advocacy strategies that align well with their advocacy goals; and 
  3. Construct a plan for implementing an advocacy strategy.
  4. In the bridge activity... Identify news articles discussing a community problem and the advocates trying to solve it.
 

Lesson 13: Publicizing Your Efforts and Taking Action 

Overview

In this lesson, students plan the final details to make their rule of law advocacy action a reality. They will:

  • Discuss how the media reports about the work of community activists
  • Learn about how a group of young activists in Jordan are using social media to advocate for change
  • Plan their media outreach strategy
  • Prepare to meet with decision-makers and stakeholders by creating sound bites, talking points, and reviewing effective meeting strategies
  • Finally, students will prepare to document their actions so they can reflect on what worked and what they would change if they choose to continue advocating for their goal

In an optional teaching with technology activity, students will add a social media element to their media outreach plan.

In an activity to bridge this lesson to the next, students will:

  • Complete their action projects; and
  • Discuss and prepare a group report and reflection to share with their peers during the next lesson.
Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Explain their project and goals clearly to the media, decision-makers, and stakeholders;
  2. Weigh pros and cons of media outreach for advocacy projects; 
  3. Discuss their advocacy action project with stakeholders and allies; and
  4. Implement an advocacy action plan.
  5. In the teaching with technology activity... Use social media to publicize their advocacy efforts; and
  6. In the teaching with technology activity... Use social media to motivate others to support or join in their advocacy project.
  7. In the bridge activity... Carry out their advocacy plan; and 
  8. In the bridge activity... Reflect on the successes and shortfalls of their advocacy plan. 
 

Lesson 14: Assessing Your Project and Celebrating Your Successes

Overview

In this lesson, students will reflect as a team and as individuals on their advocacy project and the rule of law in their communities. They will:

  • Contemplate, through group discussion and on their own, the work they have done on their advocacy project 
  • Create their own “Youth Voices” story
  • Discuss what they learned about themselves and the rule of law in their community

In an optional extension activity, students will have a celebration activity to share their action projects with their families, leaders in the community, and people who advised them on their projects. They will:

  • Create, with others, an image of the components of a community with strong rule of law
  • Share their projects and Youth Voices features with other young people around the world using social media
  • Continue, hopefully, to refine and advocate for their projects and to help to advance rule of law
Outcomes

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Reflect on their advocacy actions;
  2. Address challenges and plan continued advocacy;
  3. Describe what they learned through this process; and 
  4. Make connections between addressing community problems and rule of law.
  5. In the extension activity... Discuss their advocacy projects with family, friends, and community members; and 
  6. In the extension activity... Construct an image (with others) of a community supported by the rule of law.

Funder

Initial funding for the development and field-testing of Street Law's Rule of Law Education Program lesson bank was provided by the International Bar Association Foundation in 2015.