Roma Rights 1, 2010: Implementation of Judgments
26th, July, 2010
A Short Re-Introduction to the ERRC’s Human Rights Education Work
I recently started working at the ERRC as the Human Rights Trainer and I coordinate the ERRC’s human rights education work. Many of my friends were intrigued by what human rights education is and what the ERRC is doing in this field. So, dear friends and readers, here is a short overview of Human Rights Education.
To start the discussion about human rights education we must have a broad overview of what human rights education is. While there is no universally accepted definition of human rights education, the United Nations (UN) has offered a valid working definition as a conclusion of its Decade for Human Rights Education (1995–2004). This definition was adopted by many governments and NGOs around the world. Human rights education is:
[t]raining, dissemination and information efforts aimed at the building of a universal culture of human rights through the imparting of knowledge and skills and the moulding of attitudes which are directed at:
(a) The strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
(b) The full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity;
(c) The promotion of understanding, respect, gender equality, and friendship among all nations, indigenous peoples and racial, national, ethnic, religious and linguistic groups;
(d) The enabling of all persons to participate effectively in a free society;
(e) The furtherance of the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.2
To make a long and still developing story short, human rights education is basically teaching about, from and for human rights.3 The teaching takes place in both formal and informal environments and aims to empower and motivate individuals to act in accordance with their own human rights and to defend the rights of others. Human rights education can be summarised in a three-fold metaphor: education for the head-heart-hands.
Teaching about human rights: Education for the head refers to formal educational components such as the philosophy behind the concepts, the history of human rights and the various types of human rights. It also addresses what a human right entails, the content of a right and the existing national, regional and international mechanisms set up for protecting human rights and confronting violations of rights.
Learning from human rights: Education for the heart encompasses the system of values, principles, attitudes and behaviours that highlight the universal and interdependent dimensions of human rights. This approach deals with the moral/ethical component of human rights and appeals, among others, to human emotions and rationality. Moreover, it aims to develop a framework of respect and equality between all human beings and to enforce and develop values and attitudes that acknowledge human rights for all.
Teaching for human rights: Education for the hands puts knowledge and ethics into practice. The goal is learning how to use human rights tools and the acquired skills in everyday activism. It empowers people to move towards a concrete human rights paradigm. This aspect of human rights education is designed to put words and ideas into action, thereby encouraging a greater respect for human rights and a greater willingness to act in defence of human rights.
The ERRCs human rights education programme is focused on strengthening respect for the human rights of Roma – in a way that empowers Romani people and narrows the gap in opportunities between persons of Romani origin and persons of other ethnicities. To achieve this, the ERRC implements two main initiatives:
- A Romani internship programme, which highlights our commitment to medium and long-term onsite training, shaped by a curriculum that imparts the requisite base of skills and knowledge for success in the labour market; and
- Thematic human rights courses, including biannual 10-day Roma Rights Summer Schools, which provide intense practice-oriented training that not only introduces the human rights concepts but also imparts useful tools and skills essential for human rights activism.
The Romani internship programme is designed as a journey of discovery, empowerment, learning, sharing, growing and personal reflection. It is an opportunity for young Roma to follow a tailor-made programme that builds their capacity to engage fully and confidently in human rights work. The internship aims to empower Romani activists, to develop their knowledge and skills and to provide them with a living example of Roma rights activism within our organisation. Our interns have continued their careers both internationally as well as through local grassroots work in their communities. The majority remain active and engaged with the Roma rights movement.
The first Summer School of 2010 will take place in Budapest from 25 July through 4 August. It will bring together around twenty young Romani individuals from all over Europe. These young people will be exposed to the human rights paradigm from a practitioner’s perspective and will be encouraged to put into practice the acquired human rights education skills in a peer-to-peer, informal educational environment. Many of the participants have in the past or are still undergraduate students; we see many of them following human rights/social sciences-oriented career tracks and often welcome them back in our internship programme. The ERRC has also employed past trainees and interns.
The three-fold methodology of head-heart-hands typifies the way the ERRC Human Rights Education work is developed. It employs three motivational parts within a human being (logic, emotions, practicality), enhancing the effectiveness of our efforts to get young Romani activists immersed in the Roma rights field. In this way, young Roma will acquire human rights knowledge, values, skills and tools as applied to the Romani people. Moreover, they can serve as competent ambassadors and teachers of these values within their own communities.
As Khan underlines:
If education empowers people to become active citizens of their own country, human rights education empowers them to take up the challenges of global citizenship, by teaching them about global values. It is not just a question of learning skills and acquiring abilities. Human rights education teaches you to take action, and it empowers you to defend your rights and the rights of others.4
This, my friends, is the ERRC’s human rights education in practice!
- Anca Sandescu is the ERRC Human Rights Trainer.
- United Nations, Plan of Action: World Programme for Human Rights Education, 2006, available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/about/publications/docs/wphre.pdf.
- C. Lohrenscheit, “A Human Rights Based Approach to Education”, Menschenrechte und Bildung, ed. P.G. Kirchschlaeger & T. Kirchschlaeger, Internationales Menschenrechtsforum Luzern (2006): 141-150.
- I. Khan, “Education as a Foundation for Human Rights Practice”, Menschenrechte und Bildung, ed. P.G. Kirchschlaeger & T. Kirchschlaeger, Internationales Menschenrechtsforum Luzern (2006): 35-41.