Street Law Essay Competition Winners Recognized

ABA ROLI’s street law program has reached more than 4,000 school children in Azerbaijan.

ABA ROLI’s street law program has reached more than 4,000 school children in Azerbaijan.

August 2011

For the past seven years, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has supported Azerbaijani law-student visits to primary school classrooms in Baku and Sumqayit with the goal of teaching children and teens about their rights and increasing their awareness of the country’s legal system. ABA ROLI’s street law program, in which 260 law students participated, has reached more than 4,000 school children. In the 2010–2011 academic year, 12 schools around the country hosted in-class programs and ABA ROLI developed an online component for students in the other regions of Azerbaijan.

This year, the program also encouraged deeper involvement by the students, including an essay competition, which touched upon many of the issues covered in the street law curriculum. On June 4, 26 law-student trainers and 14 winners of the competition were recognized in the presence of families, friends and supporters of the program.

Essay contest questions drew on important laws and principles. Addressing the question, “What is your favorite right or law?” third graders wrote essays discussing important rights, such as freedom of expression and equality under the law. Older participants outlined anti-corruption plans, proposing solutions ranging from raising salaries to penalizing those who take bribes. Discussing possible implications of a lack of rule of law, sixth graders wrote about anarchy, corruption and violence. Approximately 250 students participated in the competition.

Meqsed Huseynov, a former street-law trainer and an active member of the Street Law Alumni Association, said he was proud to see how much the program has evolved. He said that Azerbaijan has a long way to go in realizing its goals of securing freedom of speech and other human rights, but informing the public about those rights will contribute to achieving that goal. He also said that the street law program has inspired him to work on a video about human rights in Azerbaijan.

ABA ROLI also conducts continuing legal education for legal professionals, and trains communities and journalists on human trafficking issues and media law, respectively. The program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

To learn more about our work in Azerbaijan, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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