A project of the Independent Commission on Human Rights Education

by Richard Pierre Claude, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland

I - The Right to Know
II - Curriculum Planning
III - Human Rights Education for Empowerment
IV - Targeting User-Groups For HRE
V - Evaluation

This essay is concerned with methodologies for human rights education (HRE) which are tied to various educational goals and objectives. Professional literature on educational program development stresses that the first step in the planning of teaching and curricular activities requires the sorting out of ends, objectives and means. Some educational goals bearing on human rights can be derived directly from the international human rights instruments. Some goals are driven by a framework of social needs (such as empowerment) and long term projects (such as development and democracy programs). Methodologies here will be presented as they are linked to (1) understanding the international human rights instruments -- essentially based on the right to know our rights; (2) curriculum planning, (3) efforts to promote social empowerment; (4) responding to the goals of specific user groups; and (5) program and participant evaluation. Of course, these five goals are necessarily overlapping, but are distinguishable for purposes of presenting examples of discrete methods used to attain the goals. Within the framework of these four goals and the methods used to advance them, we should also recognize distinguishable teaching objectives.

While goals reflect long-term programmatic purposes, educational objectives refer to short-term expected learning competencies designed for students and participants. Groups concerned with HRE may pursue many different pedagogical objectives. These include: (1) attitude changes (e.g., teaching tolerance among political influentials toward Ethiopian tribal groups not well represented in government structures or tolerance toward refugees among British and German "skinheads"); (2) value clarification, (e.g., critically exploring the negative implications of the common use of "manmade" language relating to gender references in formal writing as well as in everyday conversation); (3) cognitive skills in matters of law, government and society (e.g., learning and understanding the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments); (4) the development of solidarity attitudes (e.g., African American studies programs which engender concern and sympathy for the peoples of Africa and their problems related to food distribution, health and welfare); and, (5) participatory education for empowerment (e.g., enabling people to define and meet their own needs). No doubt, this list of HRE objectives is not exhaustive.

In addition to the diverse goals and objectives specified for HRE, the problem of describing and analyzing various methodologies is compounded by virtue of the fact that the objectives and the means used to attain them, such as those listed above, will differ in relation to the target group involved: grade school children in primary schools; adults in a literacy program; peasant farmers involved in subsistence agriculture; police and military units; government officials and bureaucrats; health professionals involved in a program of continuing education, etc.


Methodology Implications of International Instruments. Technologically sophisticated arms build-ups, aggressive military plans and actions bringing on World War II reflected the schemes of educated people seeking world domination and power for its own sake. The Second World War was a global conflagration visiting unspeakable suffering everywhere. It was a murderous conflict in which highly trained engineers built gas chambers to exterminate innocent people and physicians poisoned children.1 World War II taught us that education must be directed to humane ends because it is certainly capable of great evil. It taught us that education should be directed to human rights.

Endorsements for human rights education have been proclaimed in various global and regional legal instruments ever since 1945 when the Charter of the United Nations called for cooperation "in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms."2 Thus, the Charter's references to "promoting and encouraging" create state responsibilities for educating and teaching human rights. Moreover, various international and regional organizations have strongly endorsed this goal. In the late 1990's, as civil societies reemerge in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere, as voluntary associations proliferate in developing countries, vitality and initiative are evident among non-governmental groups concerned with human rights and human rights education. In emerging democracies such as Mongolia and Ethiopia where HRE is being implemented by the state and in other emerging and reemerging democracies such as the Philippines, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are increasing their educational work, viewed as a strategy to prevent human rights violations and as a technique to empower people to meet their needs based upon their knowing and using their rights.

The United Nations Charter's references to the promotion and encouragement of human rights were clarified in 1948 when the General Assembly, with no dissenting votes, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was proclaimed as "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations," who were directed to "strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms...."3 Thus education is identified as instrumentally connected to the Charter task of promoting human rights. Additionally, the preambular language of the Declaration announces that "teaching and education" are not simply new post-World War II state functions -- among the governmental duties attending membership in the U.N. Rather, as if to acknowledge popular action at the grass-roots level and the work of NGOs, "teaching and education" are announced as the obligation of "every individual and every organ of society...."

Education is not only a means to promote human rights. It is an end in itself. In positing a human right to education, the framers of the Universal Declaration relied on the notion that education is not value-neutral. Education always relates to and supports values. But we must be aware of what values we are promoting through education. In this spirit, Article 26 states that one of the goals of education should be "the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms...." (Section 2) The human rights covenants (later developed by the U.N. and coming into effect in 1976 to formalize the basis in international law of the rights declared in 1948) also elaborated on the right to education and the values such education should promote.. Thus, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights placed the educational objective of strengthening respect for human rights in a cluster of related learning objectives.4 For example, Article 13 of the Covenant says that "education shall be directed to the "full development of the human personality" and to the person's own "sense of dignity...."(Section 1)

The Covenant also says the State Parties:

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)

Complementing these positive formulations of the objectives of education are the negative proscriptions of the Civil and Political Rights Covenant.5 It tells us that once a state adopts the system of international human rights, it may not stand in the way of people learning about them. Everyone has "the right to hold opinions without interference," the Covenant says in Article 19, Section 1. Insomuch as education is a process involving the sharing and dissemination of ideas, the enterprise is bolstered by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which sets forth the proposition that:

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his (or her) choice (Article 19, Section 2).

The Right to Know Our Rights. The International Bill of Rights, consisting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two Covenants, gave prominence to the importance of education in today's world. Consistent with the tendency of international instruments to use repetitious language and to repeat cardinal principles, it is not surprising to find echoes elsewhere of the standards noted above. The cumulative effect of these repeated expressions helps to underline the importance of human rights but also an important closely related idea. That is the conviction that we all have a right to know our rights. Having human rights acknowledged and knowing our human rights are both needed in today's world. The reason is stated in The Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: to achieve "a world in which human beings enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want" people must come to "a common understanding of these rights and freedoms."

The idea of human rights has wings. It has found its way around the globe. Human rights, including the right to education and the right of the people to know their rights, are implanted in international standards around the world. Thus, everyone's right to education and the goal of education in furthering respect for all human rights -- these ideas are all found in numerous international instruments.

Examples of such treaties include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989),6 as well as the American (1948),7 European (1953),8 and African (1986)9 regional agreements on human rights standards and institutions. Human rights education is now taking place everywhere in the world because people increasingly know they have human rights and they demand to know and exercise their human rights. This is happening in every quadrant of the globe. In recognition of and encouragement of these constructive developments, the UN General Assembly (Resolution 49/184) announced 1995-2005 as the "United Nations Decade of Human Rights Education."

The most explicit directive on methodology for HRE is in The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. It presents not only the most straightforward statement in international norm-making regarding governmental responsibility for education, but as well, a significant and unique call for effective human rights education. 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 freedoms 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, emphasis added.)

In Africa, there are a growing number of examples showing that governments and NGOs take this directive seriously. For example the OAU Charter is explained in comic book form produced by the Mazingira Institute in Nairobi, Kenya and internationally distributed by the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers.10 Another example of efforts to ensure that Africans understand their rights and duties comes from the Institute for Human Rights Education in South Africa. It has produced a "Rights Radio© Tape Series." Because of high levels of functional illiteracy there, the series seeks to reach those who rely on radio for information presenting them with programs of educational entertainment designed "to make people aware of their basic rights, the dignity of being human and the responsibilities we have to one another."11 The same South African Institute also offers a service called "Rights Info," offering newsclipping services from various newspapers and magazines. Additionally, it makes publicly accessible Amnesty International's Human Rights Education Resource Notebooks, the UN Centre for Human Rights "Fact Sheets," and a collection of training manuals from the Peoples' Decade for Human Rights Education.

To say that government responsibility to teach human rights should also ensure their understanding is an innovative standard and an important addition to international discourse. The effectiveness of human rights education should not only be the concern of the Banjul signatories, but of everyone who takes HRE seriously. The standard suggests that those obliged to teach human rights should also ensure that such programs are effective in that people accept and understand their rights and that they are thereby empowered to use them and can benefit by exercising them.

Educational Fora and Formats. If we have a right to know our rights, then we must start by learning about applicable international norms. We do this in many ways, and people learn about human rights through many channels and in many places. Some distinctions are in order regarding the format and locus of education, whether formal, non-formal, or informal. Formal education refers to the normally three-tier structure of primary, secondary and tertiary education for which governments generally have the principal responsibility. Non-formal education is any organized, systematic educational activity carried on outside the formal system to offer selected types of learning to particular subgroups in the population, adults as well as children. Informal education may or may not be organized, and is usually unsystematic education, having its impact on the lifelong processes by which every person acquires and accumulates knowledge, skills, attitudes and insights from daily experiences and exposure such as through meetings at coffee ceremonies, and getting information from radio, television and the print media. Typically, government is responsible for formal education, NGOs for non-formal education, and the media for informal education. Of course, there are exceptions such as parochial formal education, NGO-sponsored informal education, etc. Through all of these sources and educational formats, we get some of our understanding of human rights.

In the re-democratized Chile of the 1990's, educators in state sponsored schools recognized that students who had grown up under the dictatorship needed to learn about human rights. The initial rather timid response was to post the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in all public schools. Of course, students and teachers quickly found that simply "exhibiting" the document was insufficient as a means to achieve any discernible pedagogical objectives. Thus, they faced a serious methodological problem: how to present this foundational instrument in such a way as to make it accessible to those unfamiliar with the language of the law and to elicit participatory learning so as to "internalize" the values inherent in the provisions of the UDHR.11

Called upon for advice, the PIIE (Programa Interdisciplinario de Investigaciones en Educación [Program for Interdisciplinary Research on Education]) advised the Chilean Governmental Center for Training, Experimentation and Pedagogical Research on the development of human rights education beyond "exhibiting" methods and beyond legalistic formalism. According to the PIIE director, Abraham K. Magendzo, Chilean educators with fresh memories of dictatorship were sometimes fearful of HRE, often considering it "too political" and "too novel" because of the historical formalism in the traditional school curriculum.12 PIIE's director observed: "The lack of curricular momentum due to a mind-set in the service of the status quo and conventional thinking within the administrative bureaucracy forms an obstacle to human rights educators," making it difficult to bring human rights studies to life. PIIE argued that upon the return of democracy in 1990, teachers must learn new approaches to education, new ways of dealing with students, and new teaching methodologies. Even to introduce students to the UDHR viewed as a legal document requires new approaches in order to make it a part of the student's personal development and not simply a lifeless memorized item stored in the file cabinets of the brain.

Illustrating Magendzo's suggestion that new methods are needed to teach human rights, we will present an exercise using participatory means to teach the UDHR, but before introducing it, some new perspectives and definitions are needed, many of them unfamiliar to teachers such as those in Chile accustomed to highly formal methodologies. To introduce more participatory techniques, we first set out some (1) guidelines and (2) definitions as well as an explanation of (3) a recommended standardized format.

(1) Some Guidelines for Facilitators/Teachers

Hereafter, we will often refer to teachers as facilitators (and those who teach them as trainers) and students as participants. This terminology helps to emphasize that HRE requires a participative and dialogic approach. For example, it is often a good idea for those leading an educational exercise to consult with participants at the beginning of the program as teachers seldom do in formal education. This can conveniently be done by starting the program and each exercise by introducing the subject matter and the scope of the session. Against this background, the facilitator asks what the expectations are of the participants, given the subject matter identified. The facilitator should ensure that people offering their views do not spend too much time making speeches, but the facilitator should act as if there can be no "wrong answers" to this question. To demonstrate that s/he has been listening, the facilitator should very briefly summarize the groups expectations in relation to the topic covered.

In the exercises presented hereafter, some general guidelines may be helpful and should be understood and followed by the teacher/facilitator:

  1. Be very clear on your role
  2. Get people to introduce themselves and try to make them feel relaxed
  3. Explain the subject matter and scope of the program and solicit the opinion of participants regarding their expectations.
  4. Introduce the subject of each exercise and solicit participants expectations. Assume the participants are looking for a response to pressing problems, so the subject matter should be explicitly interconnected to local community needs.
  5. Elicit the related experience of the participants on the subject of each exercise
  6. Explain approximately how much time you have and allocate sufficient time for discussion. See if everyone understands
  7. Introduce ideas and questions. Do not enforce your views. Be sure to give participants plenty of opportunities to talk of their own experiences
  8. Your eyes, ears and voice are important. Maintain eye contact with participants. Be aware of your own voice --try not to talk too much or too loudly, but be sure everyone can hear you and other participants
  9. Be aware of how you approach people in the group, for example, not picking on the same people all the time and asking them what they think
  10. Do not get into arguments or allow them to develop. At the same time you should allow and encourage different opinions
  11. Do not allow people to interrupt each other
  12. Be firm with dominant people and say that they should allow others a chance to speak
  13. Give people time to think and to explain what they mean
  14. Explain and summarize briefly when necessary, for example, with difficult words or concepts
  15. Check if people understand before going on to the next topic, and allow for any further questions

(2) Some Definitions Helpful for Various Methodologies

In exercises and examples of methods presented in this essay, some terms are used which will be new to the facilitators, trainers and participants. Here are some definitions of terms often used in various educational and training programs when a vocabulary for participation is needed. .

quickly coming up with ideas or proposals without, at first, defending them or prioritizing them. Then open up discussion on ideas or proposals.13
Buzz groups:
each participant turns to her/his neighbor (left and right) on a one-on-one basis for a short discussion.
a brief input on a scenario or description of how a problem, for example, one that has arisen in the past, was dealt with and responded to by people. It can be historical or hypothetical, but should be related to the actual experiences of participants.
participants take up different or opposing sides on a problem and argue for a response or remedy different from that on the other side.
a prepared play in which those involved have practiced their parts in advance.
a method by which participants say what they hope to get out of an exercise or program.
the group leader who is clear on the exercise to be followed, the questions to ask, and the objectives of the exercise.
when participants break up into small groups for discussion, the facilitator and volunteers move around (float) in a quiet way from group to group checking if everyone is clear on the questions and reminding people how much time they have left.
all participants get a chance to speak without interruption, one at a time, for example, going around the entire group and missing no one.
an activity, usually at the beginning of a session, to get people to loosen up and relax, for example, by shaking hands and introducing themselves to others.
a planned talk by the facilitator or someone else, usually of short duration.
those in the learning group who are necessarily involved in the activity of an exercise and who are treated by the facilitator and other participants as equals, not passive students absorbing knowledge.
participants become "part of the action" by pretending to act a particular role, e.g., that of a police officer or of a human rights victim, but the role is not practiced beforehand (as in drama).
Reporting back:
when participants have broken up into small groups, one person should report back to the larger group the results of the small group discussion or the decision of the small group deliberations.
Speaking from Experience:
One of the participants talks about his or her experience of the issue or problem you are discussing.
Talking Circle:
all participants arrange chairs or otherwise sit in a circle so they can see each participant face to face.
people stand in two circles of equal numbers, one inside the other so that each person in the inside circle faces someone in the outside circle, e.g., to introduce themselves. The wheel can rotate (left or right) so that each person has addressed each other person in the group on a one-on-one basis.

(3) A Recommended Standardized Format for HRE Exercises

Formatting educational exercises is not a scientific endeavor. It is simply an orderly way of presenting the lesson plan for the facilitators' use. The format employed here has the advantage of being pretested, used and recommended by Betty A. Reardon, a professor of peace and global studies at Columbia Teachers College in New York.14

Overview: Here the facilitator/trainer/teacher is alerted to the operative norms and issues linked to the exercise, as well as aspects of "the big picture" as to why the problem presented is significant and may be of interest.

Objectives: The facilitator is told of the desired objectives of the exercise from the point of view of the participants/students and of the desired learning competencies expected for them.

Procedures: The facilitator is given some brief advice on how most effectively to guide the participants so as to achieve the sought for objectives. In every case, whether the exercise is presented for role playing, simulation, debate, or discussion, the facilitator should benefit from techniques suggested here by those with past experience. Of course, the facilitator need not feel dogmatically bound by the suggested procedures.

Materials: The facilitator should know that the exercise will be most successful if used in combination with identified materials, e.g., graphics, documents, posters, a tape recorder or alternative use of a person designated to record discussion, etc. Again, facilitators should use their own creativity, recognizing that learning is enhanced by appealing to different senses: hearing, sight, talking, touching, etc.

Sequence: Step by step advice is given to the facilitator about what to do, first, second, third, etc.

Facilitators should talk to their colleagues about the utility of various exercises and their experiences using them. Sharing suggestions with other facilitators is strongly recommended. Moreover, facilitators should take the initiative to devise various techniques for program evaluation as well as participants' evaluations.


The exercise set out below relies on the standardized format outline above. Like other exercises throughout this essay, it calls for use of the aforementioned guidelines and definitions. This exercise is obviously for beginning participants for whom the more precise legal language of international instruments such as the UDHR would be inappropriate.15 As should be evident, it is not designed to promote the memorizing of the UDHR, but rather to offer it as a tool to further critical thinking and action for non-college groups. The original document, of course, should be used at the level of higher education.

Overview: It is important to link basic human needs with human rights in order for the concept of human rights to gain acceptance and understanding. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) should initially be introduced in accessible language. Raising elementary questions about the range of human needs and showing participants that there is a right matching every need generally gets quick acceptance for the notion that human rights are important and can be useful. It should be clear that the objective of effective human rights education is not to sow the seeds of social unrest. Any such suggestion misunderstands human rights and democracy. Human rights education in most countries is strictly in accordance with national and international law. Indeed, it is our duty to educate people about their rights before the law so that they will be able to act as responsible citizens.

Objectives: The participant should gain an understanding that:

  1. Basic human needs are universal.
  2. Every identifiable human need is connected to a human right according the UDHR.
  3. The UDHR represents a "hoped for world" supplying the goals as the basis for judging our own society.
  4. Our society, like others, comes up short by international standards where needs are not met and where human rights are violated.

Procedures: Introduce the subject of this exercise and use the expectation setting method . Use an icebreaker method, such as the wordwheel to get started (see Definitions in section (2) above). The first activity in this introductory session should take about ten minutes. The other steps twenty minutes or more. Two sessions may be needed if the group is ready to go beyond step 5.

Materials: The "Simplified Version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (Appendix)

Sequence: Step 1. Ask the participants to help you make a list of all the basic needs that are inherent in being a human being. This step can build on a discussion of how human beings are distinguished by their characteristics from various animals and other living things.

Step 2. Use the buzz group method or break up participants into groups, one for each need, reporting back whether they think the one need on which they focused is, in fact, met in our society. Characterize our society as to whether it allows individuals to meet their needs, use their potentialities and helps them develop their qualities as human beings?

Step 3. Ask each group to envision and characterize the goals of a society which they think will allow them to use and meet their basic needs and to develop their potentialities as human beings.

Step 4. Ask each group to report back its discussion through a few words. Listening to these presentations, the facilitator should construct a chart divided into three columns: (1) characteristic basic needs of a human being; (2) characteristics of the present society and whether the identified needs are met for most people; and, (3) characteristics of the desired goals for society.


Step 5. Constructing a new column (4), the facilitator shows the different human rights needed to enjoy, to protect and to enhance one's dignity. Explain that for every basic need there is a corresponding human right, introduced in Step 1. Draw upon the relevant human right by using the Article number and simplified version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights identified in the appendix for this exercise.

Step 6. Open a discussion about column 2, where human rights violations may be identified, and column 3, which gives a glimpse of what lies ahead if and when human rights are finally respected, protected and promoted. Ask members of each group previously formed to look at needs, and what could be done in our society to meet basic human needs and protect human rights?

Appendix. A Simplified Version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

  1. All human beings are born free and equal. We are all the same in dignity and rights and have the same rights as anyone else. This is because we are all born with the ability to think and to know right from wrong, and so we should act toward others in a spirit of friendliness.
  2. Everyone should have the same rights and freedoms , no matter what race, sex, or color he or she may be. It shouldn't matter where we were born, what language we speak or what religion or political opinions we have, or whether we are rich or poor.
  3. Everyone has the right to live, to be free and to feel safe.
  4. The buying and selling of people is wrong and slavery should be prevented at all times.
  5. No one should be put through torture, or any other treatment or punishment that is cruel or makes the person feel less than human.
  6. Everyone has the right to be accepted everywhere as a person, according to law.
  7. You are entitled to be treated equally by the law, and to have equal protection of the laws.
  8. If your rights under the law are violated, you should have the right to have fair judges who will see that justice is done.
  9. You should not be arrested, held in jail or thrown out of your own country for no good reason.
  10. In case you have to go to court, you have the same rights as anyone else to a fair and public hearing by courts that are open-minded and free to make their own decisions.
  11. If you are blamed for a crime, you should be thought of as innocent until you are proven guilty. You shouldn't be punished for something you did which was not illegal when it happened.
  12. No one should butt into your privacy, family, home or mail, or attack your honesty and self-respect for no good reason.
  13. Within any country you have the right to go and live where you want. You have the right to leave any country, including your own, and return to when you want.
  14. You have the right to seek shelter from harassment in another country.
  15. No one should take away your right to the country where you're from.
  16. Grown men and women have a right to marry and start a family, without anyone trying to stop them because of their race, country or religion. Both have to agree to marriage and both have equal rights in getting married, during the marriage, and if and when they decide to end it.
  17. Everyone has the right to have belongings that they can keep alone or share with other people, and no one should take your things away for no good reason.
  18. You may believe what you want to believe, have ideas about right and wrong, and believe in any religion you want, and you may change your religion if you want without interference.
  19. You have the right to tell people how you feel about things without being told to keep quiet. You may read the newspapers or listen to the radio, and you have the right to print your opinions and send them anywhere without having someone try to stop you.
  20. You have the right to gather peacefully with people, and to be with anyone you want, but no one can force you to join or belong to any group.
  21. You have the right to be one of the people in your government by choosing them in fair elections where each vote counts the same and where your vote is your own business. Because people vote, governments should do what people want them to do.
  22. As a person on this planet, you have the right to have your basic needs met so you can live with pride and become the person you want to be; and other countries and groups of countries should help.
  23. You should be able to work, choose your job, join a union, have safe working conditions, and be protected against not having work. You should have the same pay as others who do the same work without anyone playing favorites. You need decent pay so your family can get by with pride, and that means that if you don't get paid enough, you should get other kinds of help.
  24. Everyone has a right to rest and relaxation, and that includes limiting the number of hours required to work and allowing for a holiday with pay once in a while.
  25. You have a right to have what you need to live a decent life, including food, clothes, a home, and medical care for you and your family. You have the right to get help from society if you're sick or unable to work, or you're older or a widow, or if in any other way you can't work through no fault of your own.
  26. You have a right to education. At least in the early years it should be free and required for all. Later education should be there for those who want it and can undertake it. Education should help people become the best they can be and to respect the human rights of others in a peaceful world.
  27. You have the right to join in and be part of the world of art, music and books, so you should enjoy the arts and share in the advantages that come from new discoveries in the sciences. If you have written, made or discovered something, you should get credit for it and get earnings from it.
  28. Everyone has the right to a world where rights and freedoms are respected and made to happen.
  29. We all have a responsibility to the place where we live and the people around us, so we have to watch out for each other. To enjoy freedom, we need laws and limits that respect everyone's rights, meet our sense of right and wrong, keep peace in the world, and support the United Nations.
  30. Nothing in this statement means that anyone may weaken or take away our rights.


Understanding and Analyzing the Universal Declaration. Where the objectives of human rights education are concerned, several formulations exist. For example, a Council of Europe publication offers this list of goals which stresses the development of historical understanding and cognitive skills, but --typical of formal education-- is notably devoid of any but the most elliptical reference to empowerment as a goal:

  1. Knowledge of the major 'signposts' in the historical development of human rights.
  2. Knowledge of the range of contemporary declarations, conventions, and covenants.
  3. Knowledge of some major infringements of human rights.
  4. Understanding of the basic conceptions of human rights (including also discrimination, equality, etc.)
  5. Understanding the distinctions between political/legal and socio/economic rights.
  6. Understanding the relationship between individual, group, and national rights.
  7. Appreciation of one's own prejudices and the development of tolerance.
  8. Appreciation of the rights of others.
  9. Sympathy for those who are denied rights.
  10. Intellectual skills for collecting and analyzing information.
  11. Action skills.16

Objectives associated with these goals are largely cognitive and attitudinal, though "action skills" implies learning for behavioral change. Groups concerned with HRE may pursue many different objectives, as previously noted: (1) attitude changes; (2) value clarification; (3) cognitive skills; (4) the development of solidarity attitudes; and, (5) empowerment. For beginning students, particularly those in formal educational programs where the traditional pedagogy emphasizes understanding, memorizing, analyzing, and testing for applied knowledge, the chief objectives often entail the advancement of value clarification and facility in the use of cognitive skills.

To promote better understanding of the UDHR and to enhance analytical skills for beginning students, a reading selection is set out below that has been found useful in the Philippines and elsewhere. The selection focuses on the vision of one of the drafters of the UDHR, Ren Cassin. He wanted people to see the way the articles of the UDHR were organized as a coherent set of rules clustering around various organizing ideas which are simple to understand, even if the rules are somewhat complex. His vision was that of a temple. In the figure below, participants can creatively close the dotted lines to envision and represent a Greek (highly angular), African (thatched roof), or Asian (pagoda-style) temple with a pediment or roof resting on and tying together four pillars. Each pillar and the roof stand for a differentiated collection of norms, rules and UDHR articles. The reading selection below clarifies this view and is adapted from Richard Pierre Claude, Educating for Human Rights: The Philippines and Beyond (Manila: University of the Philippines Press, 1996), pp. 183-188.

After the end of World War II, the countries of the world established the United Nations to create the "conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations...." To do this, they said in Article 55 of the UN Charter that all members must promise: (1) to fight poverty by promoting "social progress and development," (2) to seek solutions to international problems based on international cooperation; and (3) to promote "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion." As described by one of the Declaration's framers, the French scholar, Rene Cassin, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is founded on four pillars. First come the personal rights (the right of equality; right to life, liberty and security, etc. of Articles 1-ll). Then come the rights that belong to the individual in his and her relationships with the social groups in which they participate (the rights to privacy of family life and to marry; to freedom of movement within the national state, or outside it; to have a nationality; to asylum in case of persecution; rights to property and to practice a religion (Articles 12-17). The third group is that of civil liberties and political rights exercised in order to contribute to the formation of government institutions or to take part in the decision making process (freedom of conscience, thought and expression; freedom of association and assembly, the right to vote and to stand for election, the right of access to government (Articles 18-21).

               28,   29,   30
          "       "       "       "
          "       "       "       "
          "       "       "       "
          "       "       "       "
    ____(1-11) (12-17) (18-21) (22-27)___

The fourth category is that of rights exercised in the economic and social area (i.e., those rights which operate in the sphere of labor and production relationships and in that of education, rights to work and social security and to free choice of employment, to just conditions of work, to equal pay for equal work, the right to form and join trade unions, to rest and leisure, to health care, to education and the right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community.

A fifth section, Cassin called the "pediment of the temple" erected on the four pillars and found in Articles 28 to 30. The right to a social and international order in which human rights can be fully realized (Article 28). Charles Malik from Lebanon suggested this broad provision to overcome the otherwise biased view that rights are largely negative, that is --rights from state interference and things which governments must not do, such as interfering with freedom of the press. He wanted to include in the UDHR the view that governments, alone and in international combination and cooperation, have duties to implement a favorable national and international social structure within which human rights can take root, and that international duties also call on prosperous states to assist the economic development of poorer states.

Articles 29 and 30 try to set out principles to harmonize rights, e.g., that they must not be exercised in ways conflicting with other UN objectives, e.g., free speech should not be misused to disseminate war propaganda, etc.


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the General Assembly on December 18, 1979. According to Dorata Gieycz, a UN official engaged in HRE for women's rights, it represents "a legislative milestone that went beyond the established framework of discussion on the human rights of women at the time of its adoption."17 For example, Article 5 obliges States to alter entrenched customary patterns that promote violations of women's rights such as female genital mutilation, a life-threatening practice prevailing in Ethiopia and many other African countries.

Despite its revolutionary nature, many governments have ratified this United Nations Convention, including Ethiopia which has made a commitment to promote education regarding women's rights. The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1995) says that Ethiopian constitutional rights "shall be interpreted in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights covenants,... and with the principles of other relevant international instruments which Ethiopia has accepted or ratified. Thus for Ethiopians, learning about CEDAW is tantamount to learning about women's human rights under Ethiopian law.

An Ethiopian NGO, the Action Professionals' Association for the People has devised a trainer's manual called The Bells of Freedom18. It features exercises that include one called "Bringing CEDAW Home." The exercise follows the same format as the preceding example on UDHR. Note that the exercise moves beyond the objectives of promoting cognitive skills and toward empowerment objectives of forming plans of action among the participants. After presenting this exercise, we will turn to human rights education aimed at the goal of empowerment.

Overview: There is no doubt that women's struggles for dignity and against injustice can bring about the desired long-term transformation. Every woman can become an agent for social change. The time has come to open daring new perspectives that not only dream of, but work for a world where all men and women are equally empowered and work together to break the old curse of domination by one gender over the other and to take action to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. Consistent with the proclamation of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, we need to recognize and act as if we understand that women's rights are human rights.

Objectives: Participants will choose a project or course of action that:

  1. Makes participants aware of some of the content and intent of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
  2. Shows they understand selected provisions of CEDAW and can undertake a related plan of action to help implement women's human rights.
  3. Reinforces the connections between rights and responsibilities.

Procedures: The facilitator must take sufficient time in introducing specific provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, calling for comment to ensure understanding. Emphasize that the Convention calls for action, both in terms of the States that have ratified, and in terms of women on their own and in combination with others. The final step involving the development of a plan of action is most important and plenty of time should be allotted for its completion.

Materials: Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Selected Articles (Appendix)

Sequence: Step 1. Facilitator input: inform the participants that the CEDAW requires their government to report to the UN on what measures it has taken to implement women's' human rights, including programs for women's human rights education. Is this a good idea? Why?

Step 2. Raise some questions about the government's duty to inform people of their rights. Why do you think women's human rights should be widely known and information about them disseminated?

Step 3. Review several provisions from CEDAW, raising questions about: (a) whether each article is understood, and, (b) if any participant could speak from experience about the provision. The facilitator may be selective from among Articles given in the Appendix, but select at least five for discussion regarding the content and intent of each article.

Step 4. Now that you have reviewed several specific provisions of the Convention, ask the participants: How important is it to have rights proclaimed by the Convention widely known to both women and men? Try to encourage the expression of as many opinions as possible.

Step 5. Remind the participants that everyone needs to know their rights. Ask: Whose responsibility is it to make the rights widely known? Here, help participants mention as many potential agents as possible for the fulfillment of the women human rights. Ask: Is this something in which you can play a significant role?

Step 6. In view of Article 5, what should a state do if its national customs support practices like arranged child marriage? bride burning? female genital mutilation?

Step 7. Use the "Problem-Solving" method (see Sample Methods below) to draw up at least two or more plans of action in which participants will help others know about their human rights under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Appendix. CEDAW (1981), Selected Provisions

ELIMINATING DISCRIMINATION. Article 2. States Parties [meaning governments such as that of Ethiopia which has ratified CEDAW] condemn discrimination against women in all forms, agree to: (c) establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men.... (d) refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination.... (f) take all appropriate measures including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women...

MODIFY CUSTOMS. Article 5. States... shall ...modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotype roles for men and women.

STOP TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN. Article 6. States... shall ... suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.

POLITICAL PARTICIPATION. Article 7. States.... shall... eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country...[ensuring their voting rights, rights to hold public office, and] participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country.

EMPLOYMENT. Article 11. States... shall ... ensure... (c) the right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and retraining.... [and] (e) the right to social security particularly in cases o f retirement, employment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work as well as the right to paid leave; (f) the right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction.

HEALTH CARE. Article 12. States ... shall eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on the basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

LEGAL CAPACITY. Article 15. States... shall accord to women in civil matters a legal capacity identical to that of men ...[including] equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property.

MARRIAGE. Article 16. States ... shall ...eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations, and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, (a) the same right to enter into marriage, (b) the same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent, (c) the same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution., (d) the same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of the marital status in matters relating to their children,... (e) the same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights...


Of course, human rights educational exercises need not be as formalized as that illustrated above. Many techniques are possible depending on the instructor's goals and objectives and the need to guide participants with a pre-tested template.19 Some creative examples of HRE methods follow which can be used in diverse educational formats:


Designing Formal Educational Curriculum. Since 1992 the Department of Education of the InterAmerican Institute for Human Rights (IIDH), located in San José, Costa Rica, has been developing a cooperative program with the General Director's Office of the Ministry of Justice and Work of Paraguay, a newly emerging democracy in the Southern Cone of Latin America.. Support for the human rights education program was given by the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung (Germany). As a model and "pilot project," the IIDH sought a Teachers' Guide that would allow Paraguayan educators to have a procedure and the conceptual and theoretical instruments to reflect on in developing their own human rights education curriculum for Paraguay. The result is a 110-page Manual developed by Dr. Abraham Magendzo of the Interdisciplinary Program of Educational Research (Programa Interdisciplinario de Investigaciones en Educación), PIIE, of Chile, external consultant to the IIDH.21 This attractive Spanish-language Manual is described by Gonzalo Elizondo Breedy, Director of the Education and Human Rights Department of the IIDH as, " without a doubt, the singular most important such contribution to this field in Latin America." The English translation supplied here was done by Ms. Elisa Muñoz, of the Science and Human Rights Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC.

Here is a sample of the procedures using the language of the Manual for participatory curriculum design by teachers at the secondary school level of the State formal education system.

Conceptualization of the Curriculum

In this part we will try to explore the concept of curriculum. For this, it is necessary to point out that there is not one sole definition of Curriculum. In specialized literature we find diverse notions, among which we can mention those that understand curriculum to mean the following:

  1. The series of knowledge that is learned in the classroom,
  2. the plan that drives the teaching and learning process,
  3. a document designed for planning instruction, and
  4. the sum of learning experiences.

From our perspective, a curriculum is more than a written document, it is more than a study plan with objectives, courses and a sequence of activities. In our view a curriculum is an educational project through which one chooses the body of knowledge that should be conveyed in the school. This selection invokes the decision of what and how to teach within a specified time and space. It supposes also the understanding that the body of knowledge selected is principally composed of:

The curriculum determines the type of formation acquired by the students. It also determines how this formation will take place, where, for how long, and who will be involved. That is to say, the curriculum implies taking decisions in the following areas:

Thus a curriculum, while constituting a selection of knowledge that is transmitted in the school and while this knowledge represents a part of reality that one wishes to learn, it also represents a determined vision of that reality, of how to organize it, and how to accede to it. Part of the learning a student should achieve to survive in school, is the necessary adaptation to the rules it imposes. These rules form part of the hidden curriculum that takes place continuously in the classroom. For these rules, the teacher must be self-consciously responsible. She/he must provide a human rights atmosphere for the classroom.

By example we can refer to situations that are not explicitly referred to in the curriculum, but that nevertheless take place, giving a particular stamp to the way in which subjects are composed during the period of school. This refers to a series of contradictions that are lived in the classroom and that vacillate between two extremes of tension.

a) The attitude of the teacher towards the student

DiscriminationAcknowledgment of everyone's rights
Lack of knowledge of students' opinions Acknowledgment of the need for studentparticipation in learning
Perception of students as being homogeneous Recognition of individual differences

b) Relationship between students

Frustration over individual failures Satisfaction over group success
Feelings of rejection by one's peers Feelings of acceptance by fellow students

c)Schooling Environment

Student permanently judged Student valued for talents and recognition of limitations
Women are discriminated in the tasks and responsibilities that are assigned to them Women and men assume responsibilities that correspond with their interests
The student must always be the subject of decisions that are made for him/her The student participates and makes decisions regarding himself/herself and his/her education

The above mentioned dilemmas constitute only a sample of the contradictory situations found daily in the classroom. It is suggested that you come up with other problems that take place in your medium and that you analyze them drawing from situations that you have experienced. Lastly, think about the impact that these have on the personality of the students and establish a link between the dilemmas presented and human rights.

Thinking about the explicit and hidden curriculum gives rise to a series of issues that should be debated in the study of the problematic curriculum. These issues revolve around the fact that one of the fundamental tasks of a teacher is to reflect, analyze and debate with his/her teaching colleagues about the points mentioned bellow. To carry out the debate it is suggested that you:

  1. Form three teams
  2. choose an individual to:


Team No. 1 Goals of Education

  1. What is the goal of Paraguayan education?
  2. What vehicles are available between the goals and the purpose of the education?
  3. How are the goals reflected in the means and the knowledge that is selected?
  4. What is the role of the teacher, the students, and the directors in the selection?

Team No. 2 Knowledge

  1. How is the knowledge produced and selected?
  2. What is the relationship between the knowledge produced and the schooling that is given?
  3. Why does one affirm that the way a body of knowledge is transmitted implicitly sends a message about how one perceives reality?
  4. What is the level of teacher participation in the production and selection of skills?

Team No. 3 Culture and Values

  1. What values and attitudes are expressed in the school curriculum?
  2. How can one incorporate the everyday aspects of the subjects and teachings in the school?
  3. What is the significance of the contents of the school program of studies to the students?
  4. What is the level of pertinence of the curriculum to the different regions of the country?


To continue, we will look at an example that will allow us to study further a problematic human rights situation and to know specific propositions for learning conditions in the classroom. We have chosen an example proposed by Paraguayan teachers.

3.1 The problem of boys and girls who work in homes in exchange for lodging, food, and primary education.

[Problematic situations are found in daily life and can be identified through testimonies about their own home situations or through observations by the students.]

a) Description of the problematic situation

In Paraguay, as in other Latin American countries it is common for poor families living in the country to send their young children to live with relatives in the city to enable them to study. In the home of relatives these children have different jobs. They help domestic workers take care of children, run errands, etc. In addition, they must go to school and get good grades although they may have little time to devote to their lessons due to their domestic responsibilities. These children are tired, they rarely have vacations or rest, but they also do not possess the rights of workers, because they are considered relatives, not employees.

b) Values and rights involved in the problem

Declaration of the Rights of the Child:

Principle 2:

"Children will enjoy special protection and opportunities and services will be provided, these are made available through laws and other means, to allow them to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of liberty and dignity."

[Do these rights lead to a contradiction, because the exercise of one right leads to renouncing others?]

Principle 7:

"Children have a right to free and compulsory primary education. They shall be given an education that is compatible with their general culture and will permit, in conditions of equal opportunity to develop their capabilities and individual judgment, their sense of moral and social responsibility, to become productive members of society."

Principle 9:

"Children should be protected against all forms of abandonment, cruelty, and exploitation. They shall not be objects of slave trade. Children shall not be permitted to work before reaching adequate age, in no case shall children be permitted to work in any occupation or task that will harm their health or education, or that would impede their physical, mental, or moral development."

[We identify here a conflict of human rights within a contradictory situation.]

c) Identification of the central cause of the problem

In attempting to realize their right to education, children are sent to the city, in contradiction, the exercise of their right to education means renouncing other rights and exposing themselves to maltreatment.

d) Learning conditions in the classroom

[This exercise deepens motivation and leads to analysis. By putting oneself in the place of others it allows one to better understand the situation.]

First Activity (collective). The teacher tells a group of students a story in which this situation arises. "Ana came from the country to live with her uncle in Asunciòn. Ana helps her uncle by doing housework and they send her to school, but sometimes her uncle treats her badly and in addition she is not paid. They only give her a room, food, old clothes that belonged to her cousin, and sometimes they even treat her worse than the person they have hired, who Ana helps. She really doesn't know who she is, a hired worker or a relative...perhaps even her uncle does not know."

[In analysis of the problematic situation the intention is to capture the perceptions and opinions of the students, as we are facing a problem that occurs in everyday life.]

Second Activity (group). Form groups to act out the narrated situation, the objective being for the students to put themselves in the other's position. For this it is necessary to describe in detail each of the characters, as each group is to attribute certain behavior and reasons for that behavior to each character. The characters are: Ana, the aunt, uncle, and the household employee, a cousin (child of the aunt and uncle), and Ana's mother and father in the country. Each group is made of seven participants (if there are too many students you can add cousins).

[The teacher collaborates with each group so that they clearly express their opinions about the situation in relation to other opinions they hold.]

Third Activity (group). After the presentations new groups are formed to match the characters that were represented. That way you make a group with all those who represented Ana, another of the uncles, another of the aunts, the cousins, and the parents. Each group should consider the following questions:

  1. What did each feel while playing the role?
  2. Why do you think this and that character acts as he/she does?
  3. How do you think the situation could be changed?

[Solutions are proposed by the groups after having thought about the questions.]

Fourth Activity (collective). The groups present their thoughts and the teacher tries to categorize the elements that are brought up to show the relationship between the characters.

[The objective is to reach a certain level of understanding so that each student will not discriminate against others who find themselves in this situation.]

Fifth Activity (group). After reflection, return to the original groups and discuss, using the analysis they made of each character, a possible solution to the problem. Present it to the class. The teacher should orient the students' thinking around alternative responses and solutions that are presented and raise questions about what each solution requires on everyone's part.

The example of curriculum planning set out above to guide Latin American teachers in planning formal educational programs for public schools seeks to be practical in enhancing cognitive and critical skills. But non-formal education designed by NGOs often seeks to go further to achieve empowerment goals. Effective education should teach lessons students can use, and education for empowerment must always result in action plans that people see themselves as capable of undertaking.


Non-formal education is used outside the school system by NGOs around the world to assist people to develop knowledge and skills and to help them meet their basic needs. Such programs often have empowerment as their primary goal, but it may be blended with other objectives. Among these ancillary purposes are those whereby NGOs attempt to:

A Definition and Example. Empowerment is a process through which people and/or communities increase their control or mastery of their own lives and the decisions that affect their lives. Empowering education differs from most formal education traditionally designed to promote knowledge and skills. The scholarly literature on education for empowerment is not extensive, partly because empowerment is seldom central to the concerns of professional educators in the industrially developed democracies of the "First World." It is best known and used with some exemplary results in various "Third World" countries where the literature is philosophically rich and politically grounded.

Pedagogy directed toward the goal of empowerment and seeking the objective of reinforcing political efficacy on the part of participants has been successfully used in various less developed and developing countries relying on the methods of the late Brazilian scholar, Paulo Freire: conscientization; dialogic teaching --discarding the role of teacher as "know it all"; emphasis on student participation in the defining of community needs; and reliance on the design of plans for collective action to promote social transformation and to demonstrate solidarity with those most in need.22 Perhaps paradoxically, Freire himself avoided claims about the utility of his methods outside the cultural framework of Latin American peasant populations in which he showed that significant advances in literacy skills were possible in the context of continual political-educational dialogue. In any event, Freire's techniques have been adapted for use as empowerment pedagogies in other Third World settings, most prominently in Asia where Clark,23 Dias,24 and Timm25 have linked human rights education for empowerment to allied economic, political and legal development objectives.

For example, empowerment is the stated objective of the non-formal human rights educational work of PROCESS, a Philippine non-governmental organization set up to help people learn and act upon their economic and social rights, particularly in rural settings. The group's planning usually takes place "on site" where they conduct community organizing activities. They may typically target a small fishing village where people are encouraged by PROCESS organizers to meet and define their local needs and problems.26 At some point when maximum possible consensus is achieved, the group introduces what they call their barefoot lawyers who help to reinterpret needs in terms of rights, relating for instance, to the unfair use of fishing licenses by absentee licensees. Having conceptualized needs in terms of rights, the group then begins to talk about, devise and select remedial strategies that include the systematic collection of information, and action plans, e.g., the formulation of petitions, the drafting of new legislation as well as litigation and presentations by lawyers to administrative boards, etc. The open-ended planning process involved in this example yields a bonus which formal education too seldom does: it reaches the grass roots and involves people in a community context in acquiring control over their own fates and meeting their own needs on their terms.27

Non-formal human rights education for empowerment does not treat students simply as receptacles to be filled with useful ideas and information, as if knowledge is an object to be received rather than a continuous process of inquiry and critical reflection.

From the Participants' Point of View. Education for empowerment must go beyond the acquisition of knowledge and operate from the premise that humans not only have the ability to know reality, but they also have the capacity for critical reflection and action. Therefore, education aimed at developing this capacity must enable students to analyze the underlying structures of an issue, action or experience, to unveil and apprehend its causal relationships, and to discover the hidden motives or interests which it conceals. To understand how any given policy benefits some and harms others is an important step toward action. People need such perspectives to deal with many issues, such as children exploited though prostitution; farmers hurt by the diversion of water supplies; workers toiling for 16 hours per day, not knowing the law that is designed to protect them with maximum hours rules.

From the Facilitator's Point of View. Empowering education supplies the means by which people deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. To take this goal seriously, HRE facilitators must use problem-posing techniques whereby facilitators and participants are involved in a partnership of mutual cooperation and in which the role of teacher as "know it all" is abandoned. The challenge for the facilitator is to accept an idea that is new to many. That is the idea that the teacher/student dichotomy is dissolved in a learning group in which all participate. Indeed, the teacher should not even be referred to as such, but should adopt the role of a facilitator who helps participants to do several things. For example, the group members go through a process of consciousness-raising about their needs as human beings and the circumstances in which they live. They develop critical skills to assess their human rights and that of others. They improve their abilities to analyze the obstacles and structures of repression that stand in the way of enjoying rights and freedoms. They develop the ability to analyze the causes of human rights violations and to connect their learning with action. They become empowered to undertake remedial actions. They become ready to learn more and acquire new skills using law and human rights as instruments of change, development and justice. They become empowered to share their learning with others and "to pass on the word," echoing HRE for empowerment to ever wider circles of participants.


Below is an exercise taken from The Bells of Freedom, an Ethiopian trainers' guide for non-formal education. It is called: "Making a Defensive Plan of Action," and it is consistent with the empowerment goals and subsidiary objectives related to developing cognitive skills.

Overview: There is no such thing as a value-neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation and adult learners into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. People so empowered should be able to envision " defensive strategies" designed to undertake plans of action in defense of human rights. Such activism aims in two directions toward: (1) working to implement our own human rights; and (2) educating each other and all the people about their rights before the law so that they will be able to be responsible citizens in a real democracy and not a "make believe democracy."

Objectives: Participants should be able to:

  1. identify a well defined and agreed upon group of human rights problems they face
  2. devise a defensive strategy involving a plan of action to remedy rights violations
  3. carry home their defensive strategies, echoing HRE in their respective communities

Procedures: The facilitator should find creative ways to help prioritize the human rights problems that particularly concern the specific target group involved. Try to take plenty of time facilitating the "defensive plan of action." On the last step, focusing on defense mechanisms, the facilitator must be prepared to supply considerable information about legal remedies, bringing along paralegals to act as "floaters" for purposes of giving technical advice to the planning groups set up in Step 3.

Materials and Resources: Selected provisions of the UDHR (on the right to remedies), the CCPR (on penal remedies), CEDAW (on state reporting duties where the state is accountable to the UN for problems not solved), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (on HRE as an obligation). Also, the facilitator should have at hand information about legal aid groups and sources of legal advice, as well as the assistance of visiting paralegals or legal aid professionals to give technical advice on developing remedies to right wrongs.

Sequence: Step 1. Use the brainstorming technique to elicit from the participants the several human rights problems with which they are immediately concerned in their daily lives. Try to follow this listing of rights problems with a constructive effort to come to consensus on a few priority problems, for example from three to six priority human rights problems.

Step 2. After priorities have been set and a few issues of common concern have been identified, ask (for each issue) at least one person speaking from experience.

Step 3. Ask for volunteers to select the issue of their choice and divide up into an action planning group for each issue: "The Defense Action Team." Explain that the action planning group will develop defensive strategies to remedy human rights violations in the community

Step 4. Facilitator input: Before convening separate planning groups, explain various defense mechanisms that are available to respond to specific human rights violations. These include the following:

  1. If a violation of human rights could not be prevented and has taken place, the case should be investigated, developing reliable information in answer to these questions:

  2. Factual documentation is needed, carefully register and record all the circumstances of the case (dates, places, persons, other information)
  3. Make clear the State's liability for a rights violation in the face of national and international law. (Why is the state responsible or liable? Which is the international law instrument that has been violated?)
  4. Enumeration of steps to be taken in order to repair the damage: Get in touch and seek support from human rights organizations, women's movements or any other social organization or movements at the local, provincial national, and international levels, asking them to cooperate and push for change, in order to remedy wrongs and ensure that abuses are stopped.

Be sure to encourage participants to raise questions about this new information. When all questions have been answered proceed to the next step. Explain that in their groups, they can ask for advice from paralegal "floaters."

Step 5. Convene the groups identified in Step 3. The groups should plan to develop a defensive plan of action focusing on the issue for which the group is responsible. Explain that the facilitator and visiting paralegals will "float" from group to group to provide technical information on human rights remedies using self-help, mediation, documentation techniques and other available justice devices at the provincial, federal and international levels.

Step 6. Someone (or several) in each group should take responsibility to "report back" on defense planning components coming out of the group's deliberations. After reporting back on these items, the Human Rights Defense Plan of Action will be open to general discussion and constructive criticism by all.

Step 7. Ask participants for individuals to volunteer in implementing the action plan, indicating specifically what they can do and would like to do to achieve the defensive goals of the plan.

Step 8. Award each participant who has finished the exercise an "HRE Certificate of Program Completion." The Certificate should carry the statement by the anthropologist, Margaret Mead:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Step 9. Conduct an evaluation of the program.

Appendix. Remedy and Petition Rights in the UDHR(1948)and the CCPR(1976).

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 8: Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Article 9, Section 4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court in order that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release of the detention is not lawful. Section 5. Anyone who has been victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women

Article 2. Section (c). States Parties agree ... to establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination.

Article 18. States Parties [shall submit to the UN periodic reports every four years] on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures they have adopted to give effect to the provisions [of CEDAW], [including in the report]...factors and difficulties affecting he degree of fulfillment of obligations under the ... Convention.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 42. States Parties undertake to make the principles and provisions of the convention widely known, by appropriate and active means to adults and children alike.


Planners of curricula for human rights education should be sensitive to the need to establish the legitimacy (acceptability and credibility) of their programs. To face this issue constructively, among other things, it is necessary to ask precise questions about the identity of the groups targeted for HRE and those acting in teaching roles. Consider the issue of who is teaching. According to research findings in social psychology, change agents encounter more difficulties in introducing innovation into groups through reliance on outsiders to the exclusion of in-group participation.28

Let us look at two examples of "in-group planning," i.e., two programs which illustrate interactive planning involving teacher-planners who return to their own communities to implement the program they design for the targeted groups from which they originate. Their respective programs enjoy greater legitimacy by virtue of the fact that teachers as social change agents are indigenous to the target groups they serve.

In-group Planning. An instructive example of educational planning involves a project in Israel designed for Arab and Jewish students. "The Rules of the Game" is called by its designers a "bottom-up" curriculum. This term draws attention to the fact that, from its inception, the project was developed with the full participation of an equal number of Arab and Jewish teachers. The objective of the group of 20 educators was to cooperate in developing a curriculum to foster the understanding of democratic principles including both majority rule and minority rights. The planning phase encompassed a year of debate and discussion with intensive workshops drawing materials from Al-Haq and B'Tselem, respectively Arab and Jewish human rights NGOs. "Rules of the Game" is supposed to build and reinforce attitudes of tolerance, mutual respect and individual freedom, but it is primarily a curriculum emphasizing a cognitive approach aimed at helping students distinguish empirical findings from value judgments, eye-witness evidence from hearsay, and a logical argument from an emotional one. The teacher-planners of the project expressed the hope that:

a 'grass roots' curriculum, introduced by the very same teachers by whom it was developed, might secure good will and cooperation that are so direly needed in order to overcome negative attitudes and resistance to change. 29

In the Israeli example, teachers from both sides of divisive conflict came together cooperatively to plan a program promoting the values inherent in their collaborative process: conflict resolution, tolerance of diverse perspectives, mutual respect and human rights. In an Asian case profiled below, teacher recruitment also was keyed to the values inherent in the educational program, namely the search for justice in an historical setting beset by injustice.

In the Philippines, an NGO was the 1991 recipient of a UNESCO Award for effective human rights education. The program of the Task Force Detaineess-Philippines (TFDP) involves education and training targeting such needy groups as the urban poor, landless peasants, and hacienda workers. In the process of reaching these groups with educational programs, TFDP seeks to add to the ranks of its trained fact-gatherers engaged in monitoring and documenting human rights violations. TFDP follows a recruitment policy designed to ensure its acceptability among groups targeted for human rights education. They rely on trainers whose commitment to human rights is experientially based. They avoid academics in favor of human rights victims, including former political detainees. Using trainers whose commitment to human rights grows out of a "transforming personal experience" and a positive response to victimization partly explains the widespread scope of the popular community-based programs which are highly decentralized and scattered among the 7000 islands of the Southeast Asian country.30 Thus the program illustrates a popularly based example of the empowerment methodologies of Paulo Friere: identifying problems, defining needs, clarifying norms, formulating and undertaking plans of action.

Identifying the Target Groups. Professor J.Paul Martin of the Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights has written a very useful and short Handbook on Self-Help Human Rights Education (1996). He argues for careful and systematic planning of HRE programs and notes that the methods used for human rights education will and should vary considerably depending upon the target groups identified for training and education. He distinguishes different kinds of target groups: (1) those suffering violations; (2) those to some degree causing violations, (3) third parties; and (4) educators in teacher training. Below we will profile examples of HRE programs for such groups.


The Rural Poor in Thailand. The Thongbai Thongpao Foundation (TTF) brings legal assistance to Thailand's rural people, conducting training on basic human rights and the law for daily life. In the weekend "Law to the Villages" program, rural residents learn about constitutional law, human rights, marriage, loans and mortgages, labor law and other legal issues that concern them. Because participants complain of exploitation by those who assume peasants have no access to law, the program concludes by setting up a local para-legal committee. They provide participants with a photo identification card including their personal lawyer's name and a listing of the rights of suspects: the right to silence, to legal assistance, to know the charges against them, and the right to bail. Based on the theory that the people have the right to know their rights, the practice of the TTF program has been emulated elsewhere. Its founder was given the Magsaysay Award (Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize) in recognition of "use of his legal skills and pen to defend those who have 'less in life and thus need more in law.'"

Women in Malaysia. Human rights education undertaken by advocacy and activist NGOs can be dangerous, according to Irene Fernandez, the Malaysian founder of "Tenaganita" (meaning "women's force"). For her group, the approach must be "holistic": activism, humanitarian service and non-formal teaching are tied together, affecting the full array of political, economic and social rights. They have educational programs on women and AIDS, a halfway house for health recovery, a drop-in counseling center, and a human rights education and leadership training program. It introduces feminist ideas and human rights principles into a largely Muslim culture. Because the NGO monitors the welfare of female migrant workers, it traced major health problems to government camps where undocumented laborers are detained. For publishing a report on conditions in these centers, Ms. Fernandez has been criminally charged for maligning the good name of the country in the eyes of the world. Tenaganita argues that freedom of expression in the Malaysian Constitution should protect their report which is truthful and calls for a humane policy for the recruitment and employment of foreign labor. The case shows that human rights educators like Fernandez may become victims by virtue of their work. According to Irene Fernandez, her trial in 1997 shows that human rights education can be risky, but also serves as a consciousness-raising lesson for their educational program: namely that workers are not just human resources and economic units. They are human beings and must be treated with the dignity and the human rights everyone deserves.


Real Estate Agents in Japan. In 1994, an Osaka real estate agent tried to trace the boundaries of a ghettoized neighborhood occupied by the Burakumin minority. They are Japanese who suffer prejudice because their disfavored status links them to an earlier period of caste-like social stratification. A complaint that the agent's queries reflected discriminatory business practices resulted in an administrative order "to study the Buraku issue" under guidance of the Buraku Liberation League (BLL). League educators eventually concluded that both the agent and company officials completed the course and demonstrated changed attitudes and modified behavior. This incident shows how Japanese laws against discrimination, carrying no penalties against offenders, nevertheless informally remedy transgressions through privately conducted "enlightenment education" when administratively ordered. This non-confrontational approach bridges the inconsistencies between any vestigial negative social attitudes of intolerance and the positive rhetoric of legal safeguards against bigotry. Also, the BLL has devised a systematic and wide-ranging program for children in primary schools, including NINGEN (Human). The book includes poems, songs, short stories and articles to introduce children to the topic of human rights and discrimination against the Burakumin, Koreans in Japan, women, disabled persons, etc. It teaches that human rights are in accord with Asian values.

The Police in North America. In 1992, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (New York) organized a training program called "Human Dignity and the Police." The syllabus for the course has been duplicated and used in many countries in the Western Hemisphere. The team designing the course was inter-disciplinary including a sociologist specializing in family therapy, experts in ethics and interpersonal communications as well as human rights and criminal justice specialists. A primary objective of the course is to instill in law enforcement officers a belief that human dignity is the foundation for human rights, and that police are entrusted to protect human rights. Among other techniques, the course employs a "nontraditional method" of drawing on trainees' experiences with their own past sense of loss of dignity. According to Marc duBois, "Teaching police to understand how it feels to have their dignity taken away" increases their awareness of the vulnerability of marginalized groups in society.31 The course culminates with participants formulating codes of conduct drawing from ethical and human rights standards. In 1990, a Canadian group produced a manual even more broadly conceived than the program described by DuBois. The Canadians designed a range of syllabi useful for human rights training for police, various categories of military personnel, officials at prisons and correctional institutions. The Human Rights Training for Commonwealth Public Officials Manual also supplies syllabi suitable for defense ministry officials.32


Health Professionals in Cambodia. In 1993, the Human Rights Component of United Nations National Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), recruited a team of Cambodians and expatriates with health care and human rights backgrounds and other international personnel to develop a 20-hour curriculum on human rights for health professionals. Devastated by civil war and policies of the earlier Khmer Rouge regime, the UN-sponsored system had to deal with the aftermath of genocidal killings of one million people, the world's highest mortality rate, and the highest percentage anywhere of victims of landmines (one in every 236 surviving Cambodians are amputees). Thus health professionals needed to learn how to undertake a medical evaluation of landmine survivors, how to assess and treat torture survivors, and the importance, under standards of human rights and medical ethics, of providing health care regardless of age, sex, political, social, ethnic or economic background. The team planning the program included Cambodian doctors, medical assistants, nurses and midwives, and a Cambodian law student. Two of them were torture survivors who suffered abuses during the Khmer Rouge rule. Additional advisors included a Buddhist monk and a Cambodian with extensive background in mental health. The program of 10 two-hour lessons follows an 80-page syllabus entitled "Human Rights for Health Professionals" (in Khmer and English). Two thousand people have completed the courses taught in nursing schools, open fields, and temples. It has survived the vagaries of recent political change because the Cambodian Health and Human Rights Alliance was formed as an NGO in 1994 to continue the work begun under UN auspices and because the medical and nursing faculty of Phnom Penh have approved the program as a permanent part of their training.

Government Officials in Nepal. In 1992, the International Institute for Human Rights, Environment and Development (INHURED International) in Kathmandu, along with UNICEF, Redd Barna/Norway, and many Nepali NGOs participated in a workshop on the Children's Convention to which Nepal had become a State party. The workshop supplied educational opportunities to inform policy makers, to prompt questions from members of the media, and to raise the consciousness of the general public regarding children's issues. Moreover, it was replicated in similar workshops in five administrative regions of the country, leading to such meetings in all 75 districts. Indeed, children also participated in the National Seminar of NGOs, after which, they went back to their communities to share their learning and return to the Capitol with friends. The resulting Children's Seminar discussed the status of children and their responsibilities as well as the duties of parents, the community, local government bodies, and political parties. As an outcome of this process, the government's National Planning Commission --with responsibility to prepare Nepal's treaty report, did so by forming a joint committee with NGO representation from Child Watch and the children-representatives of the Child Awareness Group. Thus the National NGO Workshop and the Children's Seminar, as well as various declarations and plans of action developed in their wake, became the basis for NGO input in the national report to the United Nations. Certainly as important as the resulting report has been the NGO-led process of education on the subject of the rights of the child and the educational radio coverage of the topic in Nepal. 33


In 1992, a Philippine Congressional Commission on Education concluded that the half million teachers in public schools of the country are "grossly underpaid and too often ill-qualified."34 While working circumstances for teachers in the Philippines are arduous and challenging, there are, of course, myriad examples of teachers rising above their meager conditions, teaching effectively, and initiating human rights education for the benefit of their students and themselves. Two programs of teacher training in the island nation attest to this conclusion and give hope for future progress within the framework of formal education


First, the program for teaching human rights to future teachers organized at the Philippine Normal University (PNU) in the 1990's is an outstanding illustration of serious efforts to prepare teachers with creative approaches to the subject. With support from the PNU Research Center for Human Rights, faculty of the Peace and World Order Studies Unit require those in training to come to a full understanding of their human rights as persons and as educators. According to Felice I. Yeban, Director of the Studies Unit, PNU has organized a fully planned program of human rights education studies for future Filipino educators, even allowing student teachers to concentrate in human rights education. They use the United Nations Human Rights Trainers Guide as an important resource.35 In the PNU program, the emphasis is on developing participatory pedagogies and critical skills among teachers and students. As national development plans promoted by the Ramos Administration claim to rely on well trained teachers, PNU teacher training should help to put human beings at the center of planning and the human rights of teachers and students prominently in the lead.

Second, since 1993, The José W. Diokno Foundation in the Philippines has been directly involved in teacher training for human rights education. With approval of the government department responsible for public schools, Diokno teacher trainers have conducted workshops for school teachers in all fifteen regions of the country, supplying participating teachers with human rights education kits: modules, international human rights documents, and pedagogical resource materials. Reflecting on the teacher training workshops, Ms. María Serena I. Diokno, Director of the Foundation, describes its participatory nature and emphasis on encouraging critical skills:

To illustrate our participatory methods, we will simply ask participants to identify a problem in the area. Let's say it's 'brownouts' [electrical failures]. We chart the consequences of this problem: who is affected and how? We ask a lot of questions about what explains power failures. They may say, 'planning breakdowns,' and 'corruption' --money for energy supplies is going to the wrong people, or insufficient government funding. We keep asking: 'why, why, why?' This way we develop our 'web chart' of reasons given, each answer requiring new deeper explanations. Then we might add to the sophistication of the results by grouping answers: cultural, social, political, and economic causes. Thus we show how to build and use simple analytical tools. This approach is then applied to a problem the group identifies as an economic or social human rights problem --say the lack of health care. We show how the problem can be tied to a human rights sources: say the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Having linked the problem to normative sources, we pursue discussions about possible causes, in parallel to our "brownout" exercise, and then canvass their views on what can be done to remedy the problem?36

Serena Diokno is Associate Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy at the University of The Philippines. She has personally monitored and conducted teacher training sessions throughout the provinces. In her view, the subject is almost always new to the teachers, and its introduction proceeds most smoothly when it begins with socio-economic rights and development issues about which teachers themselves are concerned "because they know local conditions and are directly affected by the consequences of poverty."

Both the teacher training program at Philippines Normal University and the in-service training supplied by the Diokno Foundation to school teachers around the country help to ensure that the Philippines will live up to its constitutional promise to educate students to respect human rights. Such work is a necessary component of the national program of education to promote human and economic development. It should be so recognized by government development planners.

Teacher Training Is Fundamental. While teacher training programs for nationwide programs of human rights education were first mandated in the Philippines, the priority need for such training is ever more widely recognized. The argument favoring putting teacher-training first was strongly advanced by Peter Leuprecht, Director of Human Rights of the Council of Europe. In language deserving extended quotation, he said:

Human rights education is not just an addition to the school curriculum; it should underlay the teaching of all school subjects and permeate every aspect of school life. If such education is to be successful at all levels, it will be necessary to train teachers and provide them with proper facilities. Much remains to be done in this regard, and improving the situation should be the aim of the efforts not only of the Council of Europe but also of the national authorities, non-governmental organizations and institutions, groups and individuals participating in this noble task. The challenge is a considerable one: it involves laying the foundations of tomorrow's society, a society which we hope will be democratic and imbued with respect for the dignity and inalienable rights of all people. 37


Lessons from The Philippines. The Philippine Constitution of 1987 was the first worldwide to proclaim the promotion of human rights as a national goal, obliging "all educational foster...respect for human rights." [Article 14, Section 3(1)(2).] Since the peaceful revolution of 1986 ridding the country of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, Philippine NGOs have been very active in sponsoring non-formal human rights education for targeted social sectors and communities. After over a decade of government-backed human rights education and NGO initiatives in the field, educational activities in this island state have taken on some important and sophisticated features, including program evaluation. The evaluation of human rights education, especially NGO-sponsored non-formal education, is too often neglected. In this respect, NGOs in the Republic of the Philippines have a lesson to teach the world.

Improvements in training and education programs can be greatly augmented by evaluation. An evaluation is a rigorous examination designed to assess the effectiveness of: (a) an individual, such as a participant, student, or teacher; (b) a project, such as human rights education for the military; or (c) an organization and its program.38

An example of a successful evaluation of an organizational program of non-formal education from Southeast Asia involves SALAG, a group devoted to education for economic rights and community development. SALAG was founded in The Philippines in 1985 to use legal remedies to serve specific sectors of grassroots communities based on the concept of alternative law. SALAG's name stands for "Structural Alternative Legal Assistance for Grassroots." It supplies paralegal training (alternative law) with strong human rights content to develop legal skills for community-based non-lawyers enabling them to identify violations of human rights and to seek appropriate remedies, especially related to economic development needs.

Originally, SALAG tried to provide such training for a wide array of groups: the urban poor, tribal groups in remote areas, small farmers and fisherfolk. In the Proceedings of its "Development Law Workshop" in 1991, SALAG members and others interested in paralegal training at the grassroots level agreed that they would benefit by external evaluation. The workshop members noted:

At present there is no systematic monitoring mechanism which can critically and objectively evaluate the effectiveness of various activities of the Alternative Law Groups. Such a monitoring mechanism would be especially helpful in the evaluation of the effectiveness of legal education and training seminars.39

The human rights paralegal training program of SALAG draws substantial professional support from the Law School of The Ateneo University of Manila. With Ateneo's encouragement, SALAG was evaluated by a Philippine group: The Management Advancement System Association, Inc. (MASAI). After a three-month evaluation using qualitative techniques (focus groups, interviews, etc.) and quantitative measures (data-based indicators tied to the NGO's mandate), MASAI told SALAG that they were trying to do too much; that they should center on fewer projects; focus only on those consistent with their empowerment objectives; and invest more effort in groups with prospects for strong community participation. As a consequence, SALAG concentrated on its pilot project with sugar cane and tuber farmers in the rural Batangas island area.

In the model project, paralegals among the sugar workers of Batangas learned petitioning procedures for inclusion in the Philippine government's land reform program. Anxious for success, the SALAG-trained paralegals from several towns in Batangas convened to assess their initial activities. Conducting their own self-evaluation, they came up with a proposal to improve their access to government by an unprecedented effort seeking accreditation with the Philippines Agrarian Reform Department. This innovative idea has resulted in clearly identified local land reform improvements. According to a SALAG spokesperson: "All this is the result of community-based evaluation by the paralegals we trained and by the sharply focused external evaluation conducted by MASAI."40

No serious program of educational innovation is well designed without careful attention to undertaking evaluation. The Philippine example points up the need and benefits possible for any program of education when it is open to comment and criticism. The process of fostering feedback so as to improve a program is called "developmental evaluation" by professional educators, and such feedback may be both internally organized or independently conducted by external evaluators.

Educational programs which include evaluation activities of various kinds are more likely to succeed in gaining support and in meeting their objectives than unevaluated programs. At the most pragmatic level of concern to NGOs who are often dependent on private funding sources, their prospects for externally secured grants are enhanced by building evaluation procedures into their projects. In the absence of such careful data-based evaluation, HRE will continue --as is too frequently the case-- to be dismissed by funding agencies as the human rights "soft option," compared to the "hard option" of monitoring human rights violations, a task which received the lion's share of private funding during the 1970's and 1980's.

Human rights education in the late 1990's bears the burden, as yet unmet, of demonstrating that it has practical value and is capable of achieving its goals and objectives. Because by its very nature, human rights education is designed, broadly speaking, to promote change, we can say that evaluation of HRE involves the inspection and assessment of available information concerning the student, the teachers and the program, often with special attention to ascertaining the degree of change in students. It is also used to form valid judgments about effective teaching methods and to come to a critical understanding of the effectiveness of the program. In short, evaluation is essential for developing a program with high standards.

Evaluation of human rights education, like educational evaluation in general, is not an end in itself. It should be used as a means for identifying alternative options and thereby reaching decisions aimed at improving the program and its methods. In fact, evaluation of human rights education may have many proposes:

  1. Assessing the consistency between announced program goals (such as attitudes reflecting empowerment and political efficacy, and/or the achievement of cognitive knowledge, such as learning the range and scope of internationally defined human rights and the relationships among them) and making suggestions to reduce inconsistency.
  2. Encouraging shared critical reflections in the spirit of human rights values, emphasizing cooperation, tolerance and respect for diverse views.
  3. Improving program elements by clarifying their relation to each other, (e.g., lectures on theory and simulation exercises involving student participation).
  4. Suggesting where resources such as new materials and advisory services are needed (e.g., seeking mechanisms for the exchange of teaching materials, and identifying human rights activists and NGO personnel who might serve as classroom speakers or participants in non-formal education).
  5. Assessing the relative effectiveness of specific strategies used to achieve program goals (such as the posting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in all school buildings as is done in Chile, and suggesting alternatives, e.g., discussing UDHR applications, and organizing student art contests on provisions of the Declaration.)
  6. Providing information about the nature and effectiveness of HRE as a foundation for democracy and peace in order to enhance discussion about them in the wider community and promote informed judgments about their value and legitimacy consistent with the objectives of the United Nations Charter.
  7. Supplying a system of accountability to funding and sponsoring agencies to elicit continuing support of the program and dissemination of tested models.

Because the evaluation of human rights education includes a varied array of goals, as suggested by the listing above, it requires diverse methodological approaches. They may be both quantitative and qualitative. They may include measurements based on student test results, scored judgments by a panel of teachers, administrators or observers and experts, as well as an amalgam of subjective impressions, critical observations and other kinds of evidence.41 In any event, human rights education programs should always have built-in plans for evaluation. Viewed as an imperative, this injunction is a challenge, especially for NGO personnel involved in HRE because they seldom have the professional training found among teachers in formal education that would alert them to the need for and advantages of educational evaluation.


From Southern Africa to Eastern Europe, from Southeast Asia to the Southern Cone of Latin America, a global sea change has left political autocracies discarded and isolated like seafarers at low tide. During the 1990's, a large array of states in every hemisphere have undertaken reform, moved into the categories of emerging and re-emerging democracies, and proclaimed support for international human rights, sometimes with evident sincerity.

For example, in 1989, the Helsinki Committee in Poland announced a politically significant point of departure, saying that "issues of ideology, removed from the school curricula, must now be replaced by the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.42 The premise for this conclusion was that the nation faced a "values-gap." This condition is a mark of our time. Like Poland, many regimes newly engaged in institution-building and the construction of democracies have gone on record calling for human rights education as an antidote to national recidivism and as a preventive measure against the recurrence of human rights abuses. We are at an important historical juncture. We must recognize this development as a rare "window of opportunity" to build a global human rights culture and to turn away from the sterile debates and values associated with the Cold War.

On the terrain of post-Cold War international politics, small countries have sometimes had a big influence. Poland led the way in replacing The Communist Manifesto with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its public programs of education. The Philippines demonstrated the feasibility of human rights education conducted on a national scale as constitutionally mandated. Likewise, Costa Rica drew a world commitment from the United Nations to globalize human rights education. Its Resolution 49/184 was adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1994 proclaiming 1995-2005 as the United Nations Decade of Human Rights Education.

Effective human rights education, if it is to build a "universal culture of human rights," as envisioned in the General Assembly's proclamation of the Decade for Human Rights Education, must be a participatory learning process that includes cultural mediation so that human rights are given meaning and made effective within each local context.

The prospect is no longer utopian and the challenge is no longer beyond the horizon. We are faced with the obligation to implement effective programs of human rights education and to employ methodologies that will ensure that the task is well done, consistent with the goals of world peace, democracy, development, and respect for human rights everywhere.


  1. George J. Annas and Michael A. Grodin, eds, The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code, Human Rights in Human Experimentation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
  2. 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.
  3. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. U.N.G.A. Res. 217A (III), 3(1) GAOR Res. 71, UN Doc. A/810 (1948); Preamble/Proclamation.
  4. 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).
  5. 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).
  6. 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 children's 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).
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Mazingira Institute of Nairobi Kenya, Human & Peoples' Rights, Stories, Pictures and Conversations about the Issues, retold by Terry Hirst, (Kampala, Uganda: Uganda Association of Women Lawyers, P.O. Box 2157, Kampala, Uganda. The Association also publishes a "Kids Newsletter" with a section called "Questions Parents Ask."
  11. "Rights Radio© Tape Series," Institute for Human Rights Education, P.O. Box 546. Wits, 2050 South Africa, Tel: +27 11 403-7611
  12. Abraham K. Magendzo, "Problems in Planning Human Rights Education for Reemerging Latin American Democracies," in George Andreopoulos and Richard Pierre Claude, eds., Human Rights Education for the 21st Century (Philadelphia and London: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), pp. 469-483. Cf. Hugh Starkey and Felisa Tibbitts, Human Rights Education in Schools (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1997).
  13. For instructions on how to conduct a "brainstorming exercise" on designing a bill of rights to ensure that your country is democratic, see: David McQuoid-Mason, Mandla Mchunu, Karthy Govender, Edward L. O'Brien and Mary Curd Larkin, Democracy for All, Instructor's Manual (Capetown, South Africa, JUTA Publications, 1995) 44-45.
  14. Betty A. Reardon, Educating for Dignity, Learning about Rights and Responsibilities, a K-12 Teaching Resource, (Philadelphia and London: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995).
  15. Cf., Leonard Massarenti, Une pedagogie des droits de l'homme (Geneva: Editions Labor et Fides, 1991).
  16. Derek Heater, "Concepts, Attitudes and Skills related to Human Rights," Strasbourg, Council of Europe, quoted by Judith V.Torney-Purta, "Human Rights," in Norman J. Graves, O.James Dunlop and Judith V.Torney-Purta, eds., Teaching for International Understanding, Peace and Human Rights, (Paris: UNESCO, 1984), 59-84 at 63-64. See also Hugh Starkey, "The Council of Europe Recommendation on the Teaching and Learning of Human Rights in Schools," ch.2, in Hugh Starkey, ed., The Challenge of Human Rights Education (London: Council of Europe, 1991).
  17. Dorata Gierycz, "Education on the Human Rights of Women as a Vehicle for Change," in Andreopoulos and Claude, op.cit., 96-118.
  18. Action Professionals' Association for the People (APAP), The Bells of Freedom with Resource Materials for Facilitators of Non-Formal Education and 24 Human Rights Echo Sessions (Addis Ababa, APAP, 1996) accessible on the website of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library,
  19. For diverse perspectives, see Hugh Starkey, ed., Socialization of School Children and Their Education for Democratic Values and Human Rights: Reports of the Colloquy of Directors of Education Research Institutes held in Ericeira, Portugal (Amsterdam/Lisse: Swets and Zeitlinger, 1991).
  20. David McQuoid-Mason, Street Law: An Introduction to South African Law and the Legal System, Teacher's Manual (Capetown, South Africa: JUTA Publications, 1994), 8-10.
  21. Abraham K, Magendzo, Mirtha N. Abraham, Claudia S. Dueas, Manual para Profesores curriculum y Derechos Humanos, (San Jose, Costa Rica: Institute InterAmericano de Derechos Humanos, 1993).
  22. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, (London: Penguin Books, 1972). See also, Garth Meintjes, "Human Rights Education as Empowerment: Reflections on Pedagogy," in Andreopoulos and Claude., op cit. pp. 64-79.
  23. John Clark, Democratizing Development, The Role of Voluntary Organizations (London: Earthscan Publications Ltd, International Institute for Environment and Development, 1991).
  24. Clarence J. Dias, ed., Initiating Human Rights Education at the Grassroots, Asian Experience (Bangkok: Asian Cultural Forum on Development, 1991).
  25. R.W. Timm, Working for Justice and Human Rights: A Practical Manual (Dacca, Bangladesh: Hotline Asia/Oceania and Commission for Justice and Peace, 1989).
  26. Clarence J. Dias, "Alternative Law for People's Empowerment," in Jose Ventura Aspiras, ed.,Law as Weapon (Manila: Participatory Research, Organization of Communities, and Education towards Struggle for Self-Reliance [PROCESS], Inc.,1990), 19-26.
  27. Richard Pierre Claude, "Civil Society and HRE," in Educating for Human Rights: The Philippines and Beyond (Manila: University of the Philippines Press, 1996; and Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), 51-70.
  28. E. Katz and P. H. Lazersfeld, Personal Influence (Glencoe, ILL: The Free Press, 1955).
  29. Ilana Felsenthal and Israelit Rubinstein, "Democracy, School, and Curriculum Reform: The "rules of the Game' in Israel," Roberta S. Sigel and Marilyn Hoskin, eds., Education for Democratic Citizenship: A Challenge for Multi-Ethnic Societies, (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1991), 87-102 at 95.
  30. "Empowering the People through Human Rights Education," Philippine Human Rights Update, Internnational Edition, 6:4 (December 15-January 14, 1991) 11-14.
  31. Marc DuBois, "Human Rights Education for the Police," in Andreopoulos and Claude, op.cit., pp. 310-333 at 314.
  32. Magda Seydegart, Allan McCensney, Iva Caccia, and Douglas Williams, Human Rights Training for Commonwealth Public Officials Manual (Montreal: Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa, in conjunction with the Human Rights Unit, Commonwealth Secretariat, 1990).
  33. Gopal Siwakoti, "Nepal's Experiment in Education on the Rights of the Child," in Andreopoulos and Claude, op.cit., pp. 55-57.
  34. Philippine Congressional Commission on Education (excerpt), "Teachers at the Heart of the Problem," Philippine Journal of Education (June 1992), 7-8.
  35. United Nations Centre for Human Rights, Human Rights Trainers Guide (Geneva: United Nations Centre for Human Rights, 1995).
  36. Interview by the author with Serena Diokno, Pasig, Metro Manila, 12 February 1995.
  37. Peter Leuprecht, "The Case for Human Rights Education," Forum, (Strasbourg, Council of Europe), 2 (1986), 4. See also, Carmen Fuente and Mercedes Muoz-Repiso, Preparation for Life in a Democratic Society in Five Countries in Southern Europe (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1982).
  38. The best introduction to human rights NGO evaluation is: "Evaluation," Human Rights Institution-Building, A Handbook on Establishing and Sustaining Human Rights Organizations, (New York: The Fund for Peace, in association with the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, 1994), 39-44.
  39. Proceedings, Alternative/Developmental Law Workshop (Makati, Metro Manila, The Philippines, 1991), p.7.
  40. Interview by the author with Santiago P. Armamento III, SALAG attorney, 9 February 1995, and with Carlos Medina, Director of the Human Rights Law Center of The Ateneo University of Manila, 20 February 1995.
  41. See, Felisa Tibbitts, Evaluation in the Human Rights Education Field: Getting Started (The Hague: Netherlands Helsinki Committee, 1997). Judith Torney-Purta, Evaluating Global Education: Sample Instruments for Asssessing Programs, Materials and Learning (New York: Global Perspectives in Education, Inc., 1986-1987). William A. Mehrens, and Irvin J. Lehmann, Measurement and Evaluation in Education and Psychology, 4th ed. (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1991). An example for human rights education is: Lorna Z. Segovia, The Development of a Human Rights Awareness Scale, (Manila: Philippines Normal College, 1987). See also, Michael Quinn Patton, Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods, 2d ed. (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1990).
  42. Quoted in Richaard Pierre Claude and Burns H. Weston, eds., Human Rights in the World Community, Issues and Action, 2d edition (Philadelphia and London: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992) p. xi.

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