Thursday, 5 August 2010

Human Rights Training for Children

This week, I paid a visit to Equitas in Montreal. It is the International Centre for Human Rights Edeucation, which is the new name of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation. Two students in our BA Connect programme are currently doing internships with Equitas, and I went to visit them and see how they are doing.

I learned of a fascinating programme that Equitas has developed to educate young children – from the age of six – in human rights. The programme is being implemented in summer day camps across the country. It is designed to be delivered by camp counselors, who would typically be young persons in their late teens.
Called ‘Play It Fair’’, the programme is described as follows:

The Play It Fair! programme aims to promote diversity and harmonious intercultural relations by addressing discrimination based on grounds such as race, ethnicity, culture, gender, disability or sexual orientation with the active participation of children and youth. Equitas, in collaboration with municipal authorities and community based organizations, is integrating the Play It Fair! program into existing programs for children. In 2008, the Play It Fair! Toolkit was implemented in over 200 camps and approximately 2,000 individuals were trained and over 40,000 children were reached in summer camps and after school programmes in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, Moncton-Dieppe and Fredericton.
The relevant materials are all available on the internet. They are in both English and French. They can be adapted for use virtually anywhere in the world. Click here.


getish said...

Education is foundational for changes in the society. It is so strategic to eduacate the future leaders, children, so as to root in them the values and principles of human rights which they would apply in their carriers. I wish this could be done in developing african countries for obvious reasons.

Six months before,when i was lecturing human rights at Jimma University, Ethiopia, I wrote a proposal that human rightscourse especially introduction to human rights should be given to all undergraduate and postgraduate students as a common course in all Ethiopian Universities. My idea was that it is very effective in this way to inculcate human rights ideals into future gtradutates of any field so much so that human rights would be their prime consideration in their professional services be he or she may be a doctor, politician, etc. Well, i forwarded the proposal to one of the personell working in human rights commission but personally I left the country for for a moment for my PhD study. I hope to initiate it in the future again.

jacek kowalewski said...

I couldn't appreciate more the post on the human rights training to the youth. Recently I got personally involved in dissemination of the international humanitarian law and I share the belief such actions can actually foster a change.

I'd say the younger population you address, the more things in common there are between training in HR and IHL. The two teaching orientations are complementary and share certain philosophy. This concerns both content - starting from the fundamental concept of human dignity - and methodology of training ("participatory pedagogy”). It becomes clear, in my opinion, when you become familiar, for example, with the following goals pursued by a renown ICRC educational tool in humanitarian law:
" - To develop an understanding of the humanitarian perspective.
~ To develop an understanding of the rules of war and the complexity of maintaining the humanitarian perspective in times of war.
~ To develop a moral voice that will foster solidarity with vulnerable people lifelong." [Marilyn Clayton Felt, "The Pedagogy of Exploring Humanitarian Law: Ten Points", Education Development Center, 2005, available at ] In order to nurture humanitarian attitude a trainer would often refer his or her students to their own experience of violence from everyday life, also from the time of peace where human rights is the only applicable framework.

The programme depicted briefly by prof. Schabas is reported among tens of other similarly tailored activities in "Human Rights Education in the School Systems of Europe, Central Asia and North America: A Compendium of Good Practice". The well-informed and extensive publication is available online at . It "includes descriptions and actual samples of successful education initiatives in the fields of human rights and democratic citizenship education, as well as educational practices aimed at fostering mutual respect and understanding". Opportunities for professional development of educators and approaches to evaluation of HR education are also dealt with in the volume. Hence, it targets both policy makers and trainers.