Re: Human rights-based approaches to education

Dear Friends,

Indeed it is difficult to participate in all the discussions that re going 
on. I often write a direct reponse as the one to Clare Magil about changing 
the "rights approach" to  the "human rights approach" and changes were made.

It is our responsibility to take this very important burden we all 
undertook to become human rights educators and never beleive that we have 
the answer.. but many questions and often some insight (I still say that we 
do  not know in depth what human rights education and learning is all 
about.. hoping for such investigation and research  to start soon.)

Some of you wrote about poor and needy people .. and how we do HRE in such 
situations -- is this what we need to do? -- Indeed when you have to 
lift  a person from a flood or feed people when there is a draught ...-this 
comes first- but what if people knew that they are not getting charity but 
what is coming them as a human rights birthright and recognized as 
such...-- the world will be different.

Yes! As we are now trying to develop clinics for such poor people to bring 
forth human rights literacy and legal empowerment.

In PDHRE's human rights cities we did see how very poor women were able to 
overturn discriminatory health policies -- and one empowerment leads to 

Allow me to add to the discussion with a paragraph I have sent a while ago 
but take the liberty to sedn it again:

A human rights educator is a person, a women and a men, who is capable of 
evoking critical thinking and systemic analysis with a gender perspective 
about political, economic , social cultural and civil concern within a 
human rights framework that leads to action.

You may say this is too complicated for teachers and/or children .. too 

I have worked with children all over the world, whom I met in the 
communities I have vested .. and learned  how to de compartmentalized human 
rights which they understood it as a way of life...-- and have been able to 
analyze their concerns within a human rights framework..and planned action 
to make their school a human rights school..

Human rights is the way we have to be in the world with one another and 
with our authorities and they with us.. there is no other option.

If this is correct it our responsibility to know and our humility to guide 
us that both chidden and teachers know and understand when injustice is 
present and justice must be pursued. (Issues such as poverty, patriarchy -- 
as complicated as it is, but of which we all, women and men alike are 
oppressed by.)

Yes the teacher has to understand that human rights is a political 
"ideology"  in the sense that it is informing our being in the world in 
dignity with others. The word political needs to be discussed .. the word 
democracy needs to be considered in the context as a delivery system of 
human rights. and of course "citizenship" as one that have each one of us 
implement respect and claim  human rights.

Teachers also have to undreamt that their main responsibility is to evoke 
thinking, which evokes analysis..all children are capable of it before they 
are discourages.. but can the teachers??

I have so with my own grandchildren at 8 and 7 in their classrooms who 
interpreted the word dignity to me beyond the "Me Me" syndrome in a most 
sophisticated way .. and they are NOT "geniuses".

Every part of the life of the children who are learning human rights is 
about human rights.. and so is the lives of the teachers.. Thus the 
holistic vision and mission of human rights must underlie the teaching of 
human rights and be presented as such .. but first  teachers must 
understand  what human rights is -its moral genesis and conceptually- and 
what human rights are politically...

If we have such a discussion, of what is the holistic vision of human 
rights.. which I believe we all know but must internalize we will be better 
human rights teachers.

And last but not least.. you must love the chidden  you teach and also 
learn from them,.. you must RESPECT and TRUST them if they are to take 
human rights seriously and not  just as another subject in which they excel 
or fail. (The Children's Convention asserts that "love" is a human right.)

So as some of you have said so well, we must stop being technical and 
merely informative.  Children know if we really mean it -- even if we share 
with them the most lofty ideas. Indeed as was said: it is the body language 
and feeling that we project .. and the way we treat the children if they 
are to underrating that human rights give us moral and political guidance 
which is protected by international law.

Thank you to all for paying attention to my many words,

--with a smile,


Shulamith Koenig
People's Movement for Human Rights Learning
526  West 111th St.  Suite 4E,
New York, NY  10025,  USA
Tel: 1-212-749-3156  *  Fax 1-212-666-6325

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