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Graphics are the oldest version of storytelling. Long before we had laws, humans were drawing messages and symbols on any medium they had to hand. Drawings supersede language. Indeed, drawing can be language and communication itself. You don’t need to be able to read the language of the artist, or indeed, read at all, to understand pictorial communication.
Which suits Kanan Dhru, who has turned to cartoons, or ‘Lawtoons’ to educate India’s children as to their legal rights. Dhru, of the Research Foundation for Governance in India, spoke to the ReInvent law conference in June about their success in using cartoons to educate and provide a new way of accessing the law.
Knowing your legal rights is of course a catch 22 position. A citizen can hardly fight for a right that they don’t know they have or are entitled to. Without knowing their rights, citizens are un-empowered. It therefore falls to education. Dhru spoke of countries where children find legal education boring, or complex or something that simply does not affect them, where little money is spent reforming a system which isn’t working. By Lawtoons, though, they are changing that.
Starting initially with just two rights, the freedom to speak and the right to privacy, Lawtoons were implemented in the 10-14 years bracket, however, with 328 million children in India under 15, this can be a powerful tool to reach and change a lot of lives. Over 75% of the children who were given access to the Lawtoons took it home, Dhru reported. The Research foundation is now crowdsourcing to raise funds to expand to a series.
As Lawtoons can cross language and age barriers, this concept has the potential to be expanded not just into a full series for educating India’s children, but globally. Even in the UK, having an easily accessible educational tool to empower similar aged children as to their rights could be a robust and high impact document.
It is a fascinating concept and one which fully supports the Rule of Law. Educating globally. Allowing access to justice. From a humble but deep rooted beginning, the ‘Lawtoons’ impact, with the right tone and funding, stands to be a powerful device. We will be watching Dhru’s progress with interest.
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