Woman in Tanzania. Photo: August Lucky.

Human Dignity

Upper Primary

How is dignity upheld?

Teacher introduction

By the end of this unit, students will have explored the Biblical principle that dignity is God given, and the connection between dignity and rights, as well as discussing how people can uphold the dignity of others.

Teachers, before you start:

  1. Watch the CST ‘Human Dignity’ film for your own background and familiarise yourself with the Lower Primary cartoon (found within the Learning Experience below).
  2. Download the various resources referenced at the bottom of this page (worksheets, slides, etc.) and have them ready to go on your computer/interactive whiteboard.
  3. Locate any Scriptures and copies of Church texts (all hyperlinked within the Learning Experience below).
  4. Familiarise and decide on the use of online or app technologies.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.

Explore the Biblical principle that dignity is God given. 

Tune into current understandings of human dignity. Use the visual dictionary ‘Snappy Words’ to explore related concepts of ‘self worth, self respect’.

Discuss: Where do humans get their self worth from? What makes you feel loved? How do you know you are special?

Use a Think Pair Share routine to generate a deeper class discussion.

Responses could be recorded on an anchor chart, with the central concept written in the middle ‘Dignity’. Some other suggestions: use post it notes to create a graffiti board, or an interactive ‘pinboard’ app such as Lino or web site could be used.

Explain that you are going to explore what it means to have dignity, and how it is upheld. 

We are all part of one global family.
We are all part of one global family.

Explore the connection between dignity and rights. 

Discuss: Think of a time you have won something. Something you are good at or for which you have won an award or badge or sticker. How did that make you feel?

Read and display the Dignity of the Human Person Editorial cartoon poster, without revealing the quote at the bottom of the page.

Use the thinking routine See- Think- Wonder’ to discuss.

What is the difference here? How do you think God sees us? What does this mean for how we should see and treat others? How is this related to definitions of dignity?

Reveal the quote at the bottom of the poster. Read and reflect on the quote.

Students write a Senryu Poem based on their understanding of dignity.

Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.

Explore the connection between dignity and rights

Read or select students to read parts of the following script excerpt (adapted from CAFOD Caritas England and Wales):

God the father of us all has helped us to see the world as one big home and family. We are all part of God’s family, brothers and sisters to one another. Now that it is easier to communicate with one another, people and countries are able to get to know each other better.

But why is it that some people in the world have got most of the things they need, while others have very little? It doesn’t seem fair that some of us don’t have enough food or water and we don’t have the chance to play games. Some of us haven’t got a home to live in, and others have been taken away from their families.

This certainly isn’t fair. All of us throughout the world should have all we need to survive.

So has anything been done about this?

A few years ago many countries got together to meet in a special organisation called the United Nations. Here the countries agreed to a set of Rights for children called the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child.’ It outlines that countries must protect children by making sure they have all that they need to survive.

The aim of the agreement is to improve the lives of children all over the world, and that includes all of us too.

So hopefully one day all the children in the world will have the things they need; enough water and food, they will be able to play and go to school and be kept safe and looked after.

Our rights as children are the same all over the world!

Use the PowerPoint ‘Children’s rights’ as an introduction to the United Nations Convention to the Rights of the Child.

Discuss: Are these rights easy to uphold? Do children in the class have these rights? Have you heard or seen that some children around the world do not have these rights?

Display the illustration of the situation in Brazil. Discuss: What human rights issues can you think of in relation to this cartoon?

As a class, Use the Making it Fair: Now, Then, Later thinking routine to explore the actions around the issues presented.

Further questions:

What other questions do we have about making this fair? Are there any other situations where rights are not upheld?

What is our responsibility? 

Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.


Discuss how people can uphold the dignity of others.

Explain that all over the world many people are working hard to make the world a better place. We too have a part to play. It’s up to all of us, wherever we are in the world, to do something about this by letting people know about children’s and adults' rights so that we can build the future together! With God given dignity, comes rights and responsibilities.

Rights are things that help make life great.

But since we all have rights, we also have responsibilities.

And if we are all equal and part of God’s family, that means we are responsible for each other. That includes people near us and far away.

Pose the question, giving students time to reflect: What gifts do you have that you can use to uphold people’s dignity? Rather than looking at our gifts and talents as a way to promote ourselves above others, what are the qualities that are important to uphold dignity?

Teacher note: Tie the principle of dignity illustrated in the editorial cartoon with the use of personal gifts and talents to uphold the dignity of others.

Students write one sentence statement describing how they can help uphold the dignity of those around them and people around the world. Students write it on a post it notes to display in the classroom. Alternatively, students write a fake twitter line using the fake tweet generator.

Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.


Explore Take up God’s invitation to show His love to others- to love and care for myself and others.

Write a class prayer that asks God for increasing strength and love to uphold the dignity of all, especially those people who are most marginalised and vulnerable.