Re: National benchmarks for measuring and evaluating progress

Dear Members,

Thanks to Kevin Chin for his comprehensive message for how we might
strengthen the links between university and the NGO community and
establish of a virtual repository for research and evaluation in the
field. HREA would be willing to assist with the latter, and will set up a
section of our website for such studies as well as tools for educators to
use in assessing their programs and impacts on learners. My sense is that
we need to have better access to those relevant studies that have been
done as well as research and instrument designs that we might use in our
own work.

Returning to the original forum question on benchmarks, it seems clear
that in order to meet the needs of the UN/UNESCO we should minimally
request that NGOs and country representatives share descriptive
information about policies, curriculum and educational programs relating
to human rights education (including learning materials, teacher training
and goals for learners). At the same time, this kind of reporting was not
conscientiously carried out by most countries under the Decade for Human
Rights Education so I wonder if it is realistic to request such reports as
part of the World Programme.

Nonetheless, I think we should ask for such minimum descriptive
information at the same time more broadly focusing on how we can take the
challenge of the World Programme to build know-how in the field. I would
hope that monitoring would lead us towards better practice, not just
intra-state goals for infusion of HRE into curriculum without knowing
anything of the quality of these efforts.

We have been speaking for some time on the Global HRE List about how we
need to have more research on program impacts. I think that we are all in
agreement that we need to build a professional database of understanding
about out program results. I would like to see the benchmarks work with us
in helping to accomplish these goals by calling for three kinds of

(1)  Descriptions (including case studies, if possible) of policy,
curriculum and educational programming related to human rights. These
descriptions would present key design elements related to learning
materials, teacher training, and methodology, along with clear learner
goals. In first phase of the World Programme, these programs would be for
primary and secondary schools, including formal, informal and non-formal

(2)  Program evaluation. Going beyond mere program description, an
evaluation would explore its implementation. How much exposure did
learners get to the program? What worked well or less well, and why? I am
particularly interested to know the context in which HRE was introduced.
What are the important human rights issues for these students and their
communities, and were these addressed in the program? What are the
backgrounds of the students? These contexts speak a great deal the kind of
HRE that is designed in the first place, as well as how willingly and well
educators carry them out.

(3)  Impact on learners. In my experience, the most common kinds of
evaluation done in the human rights education field relates to adult
trainings, namely teacher trainings. There is a lack of general
information on teacher and student growth vis--vis our programs. This is
a challenge for any educational program, not just human rights education.
I think that we should encourage serious scholarship on teacher and
student impact in the HRE field, recognizing that these may be as diverse
as the programming we can currently find. The areas of learner impact are
quite varied, potentially including critical thinking skills, relationship
competencies and a willingness to take action, along with new content
knowledge. It will be challenging to address this level of impact, and
this is where university-NGO relationships would work well.

I still want to keep our sights on improving practice. To this end, I want
to remind us that "action research" is an approach that involves
participants in a reflective study of their own experience. This approach
is an empowering one and is intended to lead directly towards beneficial
changes. As we think about strengthening the relationship between NGOs and
academia, let's be mindful of the need to centrally engage those who are
touched by the learning process most closely.

With warm regards,

Felisa Tibbitts
Director, HREA

On 6 July 2004, Kevin Chin wrote:

>That being said, I also believe that good evaluation work can be
>undertaken without extensive research experience. The most important point
>in terms of evaluation in the field of HRE is to simply document the
>processes and outcomes of initiatives. While pre- and posttests may be
>seen as a traditional approach to evaluation, there are many other
>alternative and interesting approaches to draw from: teacher/student
>journals, photography, poetry, narratives, collage, song-writing and
>theatre, to name a few. These are all ways to collect valuable data that
>can be used as evidence for changes in attitudes, behaviours, and skills.
>I have learned that the creativity and passion of the HRE community is
>boundless, and trust that innovative ways of influencing the area of
>evaluation can develop out of our efforts. Of course, it is imperative to
>share all evaluation results with the HRE community is essential in moving
>the evaluation agenda forward.

Felisa Tibbitts, Director
Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) - USA office
PO Box 382396, Cambridge, MA 02238
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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