Discussing the tragedy during a school assembly, Principal Mia Kumar says one student raised the question, ‘what would it be like if that happened in Australia?’
Filled with compassion, students decided to take action using a medium they’re already so familiar with, social media.
In a coordinated effort, 276 students from Year 7 and 8 gathered for a group photo to promote the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
“Some people don’t seem to be able to visualise this number of girls, and how outrageous this act of terrorism is,” Kumar tells Australian Teacher Magazine.
“We thought that if Australians could see 276 Australian schoolgirls together, it might make the situation more real for them — make them think about what we would do if something similar happened here!”
The photo was emailed to every student to tweet, post, share and favourite as they liked.
“... It went sort of viral within our school community... I mean they all have ‘bring your own devices’ in classrooms now, so things can go viral very quickly,” Kumar says.
The photo also made the front page in the local paper, which impressed the students.
“Well, our students said ‘this is good, we’re having an effect, we can have a voice in what we believe is an injustice on the other side of the world’,” Kumar adds.
To facilitate their students’ involvement in this social justice campaign, staff at Burwood Girls High School had to embrace social media, a platform many educators remain wary of.
“I think Facebook has been a very big part of students’ lives for many, many years, and part of the problem with Facebook is that
we’ve often heard there have been derogatory comments made on students’ Facebook [pages],” Kumar says.
“I haven’t [had a lot of incidents], but it seems to be a problem with adolescents doesn’t it?
“So we’ve tended to discourage, you know ... we’ve had a lot of workshops on cyber bullying and that sort of thing,” Kumar admits.
“So it was nice to see students harnessing the benefits of this communication tool.
“I think our students tend to be now more socially responsible ... so I’m hoping that using technology to spread the word, is a better way of using the technology than making derogatory comments about each other,” she says.
The principal says she wouldn’t be surprised if many other schools got involved in the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.