Re: Goals and objectives of HRE

Dear colleagues,

I agree with Margaret Sinclair that we should work to identify overlapping
approaches in HRE, peace education, social justice education and other
school-oriented approaches that promote respect for human dignity. As we
all know, there is quite a limited opportunity to introduce these
initiatives within formal school curricula and it would be practical,
indeed, to "link up."

That being said, I believe HRE can make a unique contribution - not only
in the school setting but also in non-formal settings and with adult
populations. I will be a little theoretical here. HRE recognizes the
problematic between citizens and governments/authorities, the
acknowledgement of human rights violations and the importance of citizen
empowerment. Although relevant for all countries, this makes HRE
particularly well suited for national environments where large-scale
violations have taken place. Thus it is no surprise that HRE is promoted
in conjunction to overcome colonialism, the aftereffects of authoritarian
governments, structural problems related to poverty, gender inequality,
discrimination and inter-ethnic conflict.

Daniel Lopez' contribution provides us with an excellent, starting
conceptual framework for HRE, which can then be adapted to a particular
learner group or country context. I would only highlight the following
learner goals. The individual concluding a HRE program should be conscious
of and feel a responsibility towards addressing human rights violations,
including both the direct and indirect experience of injustice. The few
studies that have been done on effective HRE show the importance of
tapping into empathy as well as outrage in engaging learners in a genuine
exploration of and commitment to human rights.

I would also say that HRE should critique authority/state power and
promote skill development related to social and political action. Numerous
HRE training materials include activities on skills such as the use of
petitions, debates, posters/banners, demonstrations, letter-writing, media
interviews and other actions. For human rights defenders, additional
skills will include documentation and reporting skills, policy analyses,
use of the media and litigation procedures.

Finally, human rights education programming should explicitly target
vulnerable populations and use content themes and approaches intended to
address violations specific to these groups, such as discrimination. Human
rights educators have a special calling to provide HRE to disadvantaged,
vulnerable and marginalized groups and to organize activities that help to
give oppressed people "voice." In this way, the learner groups may be
considered to be of equal importance to the learner goals themselves.

I look forward to our continued interchange,

Felisa Tibbitts

Felisa Tibbitts, Director
Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) - US office
PO Box 382396, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA
Visiting address:
97 Lowell Road, Concord, MA 01742
(tel) +1 978 341 0200 (fax) +1 978 341 0201
(e-mail) <         > (Web) { }


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