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Human rights education


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Human rights education

  1. 1. Briefing Notes on Human Rights Education Prepared for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission Briefing Notes on Human Rights Education1. IntroductionThis ‘Briefing Notes’ have been prepared to serve as an introductory orientationand awareness raising material targeting members of the Ethiopian Human RightsCommission as well as sections of the general public. It is intended to introducethe conception and recognition of human rights education in the international andnational human rights systems and the activities of the Commission in thisimportant area forming part of its core mandate.2. HRE under the International Human Rights SystemHuman rights education has been recognized as an essential component of theinternational human rights system. The first such recognition in what has come tobe called the modern international human rights system in the post WWII era is tobe found in the Charter of the United Nations [1945] which called forcooperation "in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights andfundamental freedoms."1 This provision of the Charter is widely recognized ascreating state responsibilities for educating and teaching human rights. TheUniversal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly in 1948,which proclaimed human rights as "a common standard of achievement for allpeoples and all nations," also directed states as well as "every individual and everyorgan of society...."to "strive by teaching and education to promote respect forthese rights and freedoms...."2. The UDHR further stressed "strengthening ofrespect for human rights and fundamental freedoms...." as one of the goals ofeducation (Article 26, Section 2).The dual aspects of human rights education were formalized into the internationalhuman rights framework through the provisions of the international covenantsdeveloped by the U.N. and coming into effect in 1976 to formalize the basis ininternational law of the rights declared in 1948. The Covenant on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights placed the educational objective of strengtheningrespect for human rights in a cluster of related learning objectives. 3 For example,Article 13 of the Covenant says that "education shall be directed to the "fulldevelopment of the human personality" and to the persons own "sense ofdignity...."(Section 1). The Covenant also says the State Parties:1 United Nations Charter, signed at San Francisco on June 26, 1945; entered into force on Oct. 24, 1945. 1976 Y.B.U.N. 1043. Article I, Sec. 3.2 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. U.N.G.A. Res. 217A (III), 3(1) GAOR Res. 71, UN Doc. A/810 (1948); Preamble/Proclamation.3 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Opened for signature on Dec. 19, 1966; entered into force on Jan. 3, 1976, U.N.G.A. Res. 2200 (XXI), 21 UN GAOR Supp. (No. 16) 49, UN Doc. A/5316 (1967).Ghetnet MetikuSocio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 1 of 5
  2. 2. Briefing Notes on Human Rights Education Prepared for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace." (Article 13, Section 1)These positive formulations of the objectives of education are complemented bythe negative proscriptions of the Civil and Political Rights Covenant 4 throughrecognition of "the right to hold opinions without interference," [Article 19,Section 1] and the right to freedom of expression (Article 19, Section 2).The recognition of human rights education in the International Bill of Rights isreiterated in other international and regional human rights instruments to theextent that the right to education and the right of the people to know their rightsare implanted in international standards around the world. Examples of suchtreaties include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), 5 as well as theAmerican (1948),6 European (1953),7 and African (1986)8 regional agreements onhuman rights standards and institutions. In recognition of and encouragement ofthese constructive developments, the UN General Assembly (Resolution 49/184)announced 1995-2005 as the "United Nations Decade of Human RightsEducation."The most explicit directive on human rights education is in The African Charter onHuman and Peoples Rights. It presents not only the most straightforwardstatement in international norm-making regarding governmental responsibility foreducation, but as well, a significant and unique call for effective human rightseducation. That is, the Banjul Charter says that signatory African states: shall have the duty to promote and ensure through teaching, education and publication, the respect for the rights and freedoms4 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Opened for signature on Dec. 19, 1966; entered into force on Mar. 23, 1976. U.N.G.A. Res. 2200 (XXI), 21 UN GAOR Supp. (No. 16) 52, UN Doc. A/6316 (1967).5 The Convention on the Rights of the Child. Adopted by the General Assembly on Nov. 20, 1989. U.N.G.A. Res. 44/25, 28 I.L.M. 1448 (1989). On the delicate matter of childrens rights vis-a-vis parental/guardian duties, States Parties "shall provide direction to the child on the exercise of his or her rights in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child." (Article 14, Sec. 2). Education of the child shall be directed inter alia to "the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms..." (Article 29, Sec. 1(b).6 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. May 2, 1948. Ninth International Conference of American States. "Every person has the right to an education, which should be based on the principles of liberty, morality and human solidarity." (Article 12).7 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Nov. 4, 1950, E.T.S. No. 5 (entered into force, Sept. 3, 1953). No person shall be denied the right to education." First Protocol, Article 1.8 African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, (Banjul), O.A.U. Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5:21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into force Oct. 21, 1986.Ghetnet MetikuSocio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 2 of 5
  3. 3. Briefing Notes on Human Rights Education Prepared for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission contained in the present Charter and to see to it that these freedoms and rights as well as corresponding obligations and duties are understood. (Article 25)3. Human Rights Education under the National Human Rights SystemEthiopia is a signatory to the UDHR and has ratified the two international humanrights covenants as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.Moreover, the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia hasgiven a special status to these international and regional instruments as part of thelaw of the land as well as standards of interpretation for its human rightsprovisions. As such the right to education and the right of the people to knowtheir rights are incorporated into the constitutional and legal system in Ethiopia.Moreover, such recognition has found more specific expression in the text of theNational Education Policy (1994) which states that one of the general objectives ofeducation and training is to: “Bring up citizens who respect human rights, standfor the well-being of people, as well as for equality, justice and peace, endowedwith democratic culture and discipline” [Section 2.1.3]. The policy document alsoidentifies the following relevant specific objectives [Section 2.2]: • To satisfy the countrys need for skilled manpower by providing training in various skills and at different levels • To provide education that promotes democratic culture, tolerance and peaceful resolutions of differences and that raises the sense of discharging societal responsibi1ity. • To provide education that can produce citizens who stand for democratic unity, liberty, equality, dignity and justice, and who are endowed with moral values.Having established the link between human rights and education, the NationalEducation Policy (1994) identifies “Change of curriculum and preparation ofeducation materials accordingly” and “Focus on teacher training and overallprofessional development of teachers and other personnel” as priority areas inrealizing these and other objectives.Within the framework of the 1994 Education and Training Policy the Governmentof Ethiopia has developed a twenty-year education sector indicative plan toimprove educational quality, relevance, efficiency, equity and expand access toeducation with special emphasis on primary education in rural and underservedareas, as well as the promotion of education for girls as a first step to achieveuniversal primary education by 2015. Since then, the plan has been translated intothree successive a series of national ESDPs starting with the first five year EducationGhetnet MetikuSocio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 3 of 5
  4. 4. Briefing Notes on Human Rights Education Prepared for the Ethiopian Human Rights CommissionSector Development Program (ESDP-I) launched in 1997. Currently, the ESDP III,which spans five years (2005/06 to 2009/10), is under implementation.Moreover, a Higher Education Proclamation has been issued and a five-yeargender strategic plan has been prepared to implement the Education and TrainingPolicy.In addition to recognizing the critical importance of human rights education, theESDP III underlines the link between democratization and development in theEthiopian context. At the outset, the vision of the education sector is stated interms of “the creation of trained and skilled human power at all levels who willbe driving forces in the promotion of democracy and development in thecountry”. Moreover, one aspect of the mission of the education sector is to:“Ensure that educational establishments are production centers for all-rounded,competent, disciplined and educated human power at all levels through theinclusion of civic and ethical education with trained, competent and committedteachers.” This aspect of the programme, i.e. Civic and Ethical Education, isexpressly stated in the following terms: The education system has a societal responsibility to produce good and responsible citizens, who understand, respect and defend the constitution, democratic values and human rights; develop attitudes for research and work and solve problems; develop a sense of citizenship to participate in and contribute to the development of the community and the country. (Section 2.9.1)4. Brief Overview of Human Rights Education Activities of the Ethiopian Human Rights CommissionIn relation to the implementation of the framework, one among the overallstrategies identified by the Education and Training Policy is to “Create amechanism by which teachers, professionals from major organizations ofdevelopment, and beneficiaries participate in the preparation implementation andevaluation of the curriculum” [Section 3.1.2]. For the purpose of human rightseducation on such organization is the Ethiopian Human Rights Commissionestablished under proclamation no. 210/2000 to work towards increasing thehuman rights awareness of the public, protecting human rights and takingappropriate measures when violations occur. In execution of its mandate to“ensure that human rights provisions of the Constitution are respected” and“educate the public on human rights”, the Commission has identified the reviewand development of human rights education curriculum as one of the programareas in its five-year strategic plan issued in April 2006.Accordingly, the Commission has completed a study on incorporation of humanrights education in primary education curriculum and submitted the report to theGhetnet MetikuSocio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 4 of 5
  5. 5. Briefing Notes on Human Rights Education Prepared for the Ethiopian Human Rights CommissionMinistry of Education. As a follow up on these activities, the Commission hascommissioned a review of the human rights and civic education curriculum at thetertiary and teachers’ training college level institutions in Ethiopia. This studyaimed at evaluating the extent to which human rights have been integrated in thecurricula, delivery and assessment processes within the targeted institutions andcome up with vital comments and recommendations for the improvement ofhuman rights education curriculum in tertiary/university level education inEthiopia. Accordingly, the study report has been discussed in a stakeholders’consultation workshop and relevant feedback is being incorporated. A similarstudy targeting secondary education institutions is also anticipated within thecurrent year.Another area of human rights education in which the Ethiopian Human RightsCommission is actively involved is organizing human rights awareness raising,sensitization and capacity building sessions for selected actors and stakeholders. Todate, these activities of the Commission have benefited a number of targetsincluding: federal and regional legislators; federal, regional and local policydecision-makers; members of the press; judicial and law enforcement officials;and, leaders of women’s and youth structures.The Commission has also conducted a series of public awareness and sensitizationactivities using print, broadcast and electronic media as well as the distribution ofIEC materials. Notable among these are question & answer competitions and thevarious educational dramas sponsored and disseminated by the Commissionthrough the national broadcast media. Moreover, the EHRC has developed aseries of spots and messages that are still being transmitted through the nationaltelevision service in a number of local languages.Ghetnet MetikuSocio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 5 of 5