SRI LANKA: What is Folk School Method and what is its relevance to human rights work – Two Videos;

Watch English Version

Watch Sinhala Version

The Asian Human Rights Commission is happy to present two video presentations; one in English and one in Sinhala by Mr. Basil Fernando on the Folk School method.

For almost 25 years, the Asian Human Rights Commission has constantly utilized the Folk School methodology, as its approach for developing a human rights movement in Asia which has close links to the ordinary people. The Folk school approach was first introduced in Denmark and its founder is N F S Grundtvig (1783-1872), and has had enormous influence in the development of social movements and democracy in Denmark as well as in many of the Scandinavian countries.

Another well-known practitioner of the Folk School methodology was Myles Horton of the United States. He initiated the Highlander Folk School in Minnesota in the 1930s which had an enormous influence in the development of Afro-American movement for equality for those who were ones known as black people in the United States. This movement had significant influence on such leaders as Martin Luther King Junior and Rosa Parks and other leaders of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.

In Sri Lanka, something similar to the Folk School style was adopted by a young Dutch priest Hank Schram who was appointed as the Chaplain for the Young Christian Worker’s movement in Sri Lanka. In a dilapidated church in Maliban Street Pettah, ( where now stands the Paul VI institute in Maliban Street) he started a tea boutique, where workers going to the Harbour for work used to attend after parking their bicycles in front of the Church. Soon the tea boutique became a place for discussions and gave rise to a very strong movement which influenced the workers’ movement in Sri Lanka.

In a short video, the idea of the Folk School has been introduced with the view to create a better understanding of the relevance of this approach for the development of social movements particularly for the marginalized social groups.

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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.