Dear All, This input is a belated one. It mixes the issues of the past two weeks. I hope however that it can help contribute to the discussion. On the whole, the following comments complement the inputs previously given. Thinking of what can be done to make human rights education in schools happen, I have two realities in mind. One reality is the repeated declaration of support by governments over several decades for human rights education in schools. The second reality is the inadequate (at times absence of) translation of such support into programs at the national level. What happened on the way home from Geneva, New York and Paris? Did government representatives bring back the good news about the reiteration of support for human rights education or did they simply allow that they stay as they are - declarations (of intent in most cases). I would like to point out also that the lack of national follow-up to the international declarations is not entirely due to government failure to do what is necessary, but of educators' lack of support for human rights education. There are many educators who do not see the need for it. They see it as a problem, rather than a solution to the situation facing society. Making students survive the competitive world of education is a major goal (if not the only goal of education as a whole), in preparation for their (students) participation in the highly competitive society (the real world). Based on combined experiences in the Asia-Pacific, human rights education programs start through the effort of a small group of determined educators. They basically raise the issue to the attention of their colleagues, education and other government officials. They also experiment their programs in a few schools. Some national initiatives/projects may have been started through support of international institutions such as UNICEF, UNESCO, OHCHR and UNDP, Save the Children, and other international NGOs. But the growth and sustenance of a national human rights education program is very much dependent on the support that Ministries of Education give. Few Ministries of Education in the Asia-Pacific can boast of adequate support for human rights education in schools. Adequate support means having policy, program, budget and personnel for human rights education. I would therefore problematize the issue into the following manner: a. Prevalence of fear/misunderstanding of human rights/human rights education among people in government, the education sector, and general public. b. Lack of materials that effectively explain the meaning of human rights and human rights education (and not using legalese or UN formulations - but always including the words human rights). c. Lack of clarity on how human rights concepts link with traditions, cultures, practices and beliefs (major reason for the fear/misunderstanding of human rights and human rights education). d. In countries that have positive environment for human rights education (with legal/policy support for human rights education or with existing program/activities on human rights education), teaching and learning materials are not available in adequate number, opportunities for teachers and other educators to learn about human rights and human rights education are limited, and pooling of resources among government and other institutions involved in one way or the other in human rights education is not in place. In some cases, they do not know the existence of each other's respective programs. Given this context, what then can be done? Here are some suggestions in support of the World Programme first phase plan: a. Focus program content on a particular human rights instrument. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most logical instrument especially for primary and secondary students. This is a minimum level/starting point. Advanced programs in some countries may already be covering other instruments. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has to be given prominence as an over-all document at any stage. b. Depending on the situation of the country, different activities can be done: 1. In countries where human rights education in schools program is largely missing or if existing unimplemented, the creation of a small group of people who are willing to work on this issue is necessary. This group may have people from both governmental and non-governmental institutions. The group may review education policies and/or programs and their link to human rights education, and identify concrete recommendations on how a human rights education in schools program can be developed. The group may begin to experiment their recommended program in a few schools, and use the experience (hopefully positive) in lobbying the government for support. 2. In countries that are more or less open to human rights education, have the same kind of small group review any initiative undertaken whether they are done by government agencies alone, or in partnership with international institutions such as UNICEF, UNESCO, OHCHR and UNDP, Save the Children, and others, or by NGOs alone. Ministries of Education's girl-child and youth programs as well as media focus on child rights are good examples to review. Out of this review, the group may determine how these separate efforts can be linked in one form or another to help spread the programs' impact more widely by promoting the feasibility of their implementation and their positive results if any (through a national human rights education in schools program). 3. In countries that are fully supportive of human rights education, a review of the human rights education programs relating to teacher training, teaching/learning materials, methodologies, and school environment is suggested. A review of the institutions involved can be also be done. One experience done in Indonesia is a stakeholders analysis exercise. The analysis brought out the resources (including comparative/competitive advantages) as well as needs of the stakeholders (government ministries for education and justice, national human rights institution, NGOs, schools, teachers). Finally, a review of the human rights awareness of students, as a means of measuring the impact of the programs, is also needed. The review is best done by a group independent from Ministries of Education. As an output, the review report (in all types of countries) should focus on the following: a. feasible measures that can be taken (from starting a program to taking further step in the implementation of existing program). What are feasible measures vary depending on the condition in the country. b. resources (funds, trainers, material developers) that can be realistically tapped. c. institutions that should be involved. Ministries of Education certainly play a leading role in this field. But their role cannot be exclusive of other institutions (whether local or international). d. teacher colleges which can integrate human rights into their curriculum. For the higher institutions of education in general, UNESCO chairs for human rights should be able to take more role. Teacher colleges as well as other institutions of higher education should facilitate the development of human rights materials such as textbooks, model lesson plans, training programs as well as provide resource persons/trainers. Students' participation in these projects would be most desirable. e. dialogue with teachers is a most essential component. The dialogue can dwell on the concept of human rights, human rights education, and their practical implications to teachers in particular and to the school system in general. This dialogue should aim at least at lessening the fear or misunderstanding of human rights and human rights education. The kind of teacher training for human rights education should also be recommended. Regional and international institutions can provide support to national level efforts by offering training opportunities on understanding human rights/human rights education concepts and practices, teacher training module development, etc. Such training opportunities are great incentives for teachers and teacher trainers that they can claim as part of their professional development. The dissemination of international human rights documents relevant to human rights education is also an important task. I do not want to paint a rosy picture here with my suggestions. But considering the three-year period of the World Programme (first phase) there is a need to discuss what is feasible, doable without losing the vision for human rights education in general. Regards, Jeff Plantilla HURIGHTS-Osaka Japan ======== Global Human Rights Education listserv ======== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. 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