Human rights education conference in Kyiv

A conference was held on 29 and 30 October in Kyiv on “Development of human rights education in Ukraine”, initiated by the educational programme “We understand human rights”. 148 participants from Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Serbia, Norway and Moldova exchanged experience and information regarding examples of initiatives, programmes and projects on human rights education in Ukraine and abroad; prepared recommendations on strategy and possible forms of development of formal and informal human rights education; drew up mechanisms for cooperation and interaction in this area. The event was opened by the coordinator of the programme “We understand human rights”, Serhiy Burov, the head of the education section of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Enver Juliman, and the director of the Rule of Law section of the International Renaissance Foundation Roman Romanov.

Serhiy Burov then presented the results of the first two year stage of the action plan for the programme. 23 initiatives had been carried out, these including both educational, and civic and legal actions in defence of human rights. This, in his view, best illustrates the results of the work of the programme.

“A large number of small-scale actions create a single powerful unity. There are an increasing number of people able to think critically. A platform is being created for discussion and the circle of people ready to stand up for and defend human rights extended”, he said.

Trainer Oleksandr Voitenko spoke of the technical side and training methodology used by the programme. He stressed that human rights education takes place through a process of interaction, “through which all the participants, gaining new knowledge, ability and skills, become conscious of a system of human rights values, and share them”. 

Serhiy Burov spoke of the need to pass and implement a national action plan on education in this sphere. He said that the programme “We understand human rights” was ready for dialogue with the authorities in this sphere and could propose effective models for introducing human rights education into the state educational system.

Successful examples and challenges

According to lecturer from the Luhansk Regional Institute for Postgraduate Teacher Training Serhiy Mihal, one of the factors which adversely affects the effectiveness of educational programmes on human rights is the small number of examples where human rights are protected. He stresses too that in training teachers, emphasis needs to be placed on how to behave so as not to violate human rights through their actions. He says that the small number of programmes is not enough to satisfy the need for training teachers, and therefore a system of information and formal human rights education requires development.

Andriy Paluda from the Belarusian Helsinki Committee said that the situation in his country was much more difficult than in Ukraine, however 4 educational events on human rights are held annually and this figure will rise next year.

Marko Stanislavlevych from the Serbian Helsinki Committee said that human rights programmes for young people in the Balkans give a lot of education to the theme of hate speech since this makes it possible to see many things and successfully form a culture of human rights. He mentioned too that during courses the issue of nationalism is raised as a challenge to human rights. The programme tries to unite young people from countries at odds with one another around human rights values.

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