Human rights education aims to teach students of all ages about universal human rights, the treaties that guarantee them, and the work still needed to ensure all people receive the rights they are guaranteed. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) calls human rights education an essential component of the right to education. It is most often included in high school or college social studies courses, although it can be integrated into a number of content areas. Many resources are available to educators seeking to include human rights topics in their courses, and to persons working in their communities to help ensure universal human rights. For example, a variety of websites offer curricula, news reports, training, research and evaluation, and networking on humans rights education. Most programs are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was enacted by the United Nations in 1948. The UDHR includes 30 articles that articulate the human rights guaranteed to all, regardless of national origin.
Human Rights Education Associates is an international nongovernmental organization (NGO) devoted to training professionals and activists and developing materials to teach others about human rights. It provides assistance in developing curricula and materials; training for professional groups; research and evaluation; a clearinghouse of education and training materials; and networking for human rights defenders and educators. This NGO’s website (www.hrea.org) links to the Portal for Human Rights, which offers resources for schools and educators, policymakers, and individuals seeking to incorporate human rights education into their curricula. It provides best practices and facilitates the sharing of resources. Another link allows visitors to access human rights courses, where interested persons can register to take a variety of distance learning courses on topics such as refugee law, the right to education, and gender and peace building. The report “Human Rights Education in the School Systems of Europe, Central Asia, and North America: A Compendium of Good Practice” is also linked to the site.
Human rights defender Amnesty International also provides human rights education ideas, materials, and resources. This organization’s aim is to convey information about human rights as well as to inculcate values and attitudes that support respect for, promotion of, and defense of the human rights of all people. Through its website (http://www.amnestyusa.org/resources/educators), this group provides online training on poverty and human rights, as well as an orientation to the work of Amnesty International and leadership training for new volunteers. A specific leadership program is available for college students, called Activate. In addition, Amnesty International has created film curriculum guides that can be used by classroom teachers, college professors, and other groups to facilitate dialogue about critical human rights issues. Guides cover the films Blood Diamond (about the global trade in conflict diamonds), The Kite Runner (about life in Afghanistan), War Dance (focusing on resilience during civil war in Uganda), and Hotel Rwanda (covering the Rwandan genocide and activists efforts to help). Amnesty International has also created curricula to go with the documentary Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape, and for the book Stolen Voices: Young People’s War Diaries from World War I to Iraq.
Additional resources are available the Human Rights Resource Center through its website (http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/edumat/).
- Amnesty International Human Rights Education: http://www.amnestyusa.org/resources/educators
- Human rights education: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/human-rights-education/
- Human Rights Education Association: http://www.hrea.org/index.php
- Human Rights Resource Center: http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/edumat/