Importance of Human Rights Education
When you talk about human rights, the focus invariably veers around to human rights policy initiatives and litigation. What is less known is that human rights education is equally important and has been an integral part of the international human rights law since adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 26(2) of the Universal Declaration that pertains to human rights education reads, “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”
The importance of human rights education that enshrines strengthening of value of human rights, tolerance and peace has been woven into all later treaties of the UN Declaration such as International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Human rights education is not strictly about the common perception of education of class room training or online courses. For example, diploma of nursing takes a student through the specific topic of nursing and health care while human rights education has much broader ramifications. It includes the basic concepts of learning and teaching that respects the rights of both educators and learners.
Three critical aspects are focussed in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training which was adopted in 2011. These are –
- Human rights education that focuses on spreading awareness of human rights principles and norms and the mechanisms that ensure their protection
- Human rights education which includes learning and teaching in a way that respects the rights of both educators and learners;
- Human rights education that empowers persons to enjoy and establish their rights while simultaneously respecting and upholding the rights of others.
Summing up these three aspects, it can be said that what is important is not simply spreading the knowledge of the many facets of human rights norms, it also has to include a rights respecting environment for learning. It has to empower individuals through human rights education to be human rights actors who can themselves be a vehicle for propagating the very essence of the UN Declaration message.
Given these positives, it is essential that human rights education be made a mandatory part of school curriculum. It will give children an enhanced sense of self worth and confidence and increased empathy towards the very concept of human rights. The fundamental point for human rights education is that if people are not made aware of their rights and the rights of others, how they can be expected to respect the rights of others to a free and fair world.