Based on our contribution to the consultation on the World Programme for Human Rights Education, Second Phase Plan of Action, we wish to discuss with you some ideas on behalf of the Centre of Human Rights Education (ZMRB) of the University of Teacher Education Central Switzerland Lucerne. Please allow us to share some thoughts against the background of our own work in the field of human rights education:
The Centre of Human Rights Education (ZMRB) runs human rights education programs and human rights education courses in the basic teacher training and in-service teacher training at both the University of Teacher Education Central Switzerland and in schools. The basic teacher training HRE-modules are separate or integrated in other subject matters. In this way, human rights education will be recognized as an aspect as well which accompanies the process of learning beyond the boundaries of individual subjects. It will play the role of a leitmotif for teaching of subject matter.
To encourage teachers to start with the implementation of human rights education in their schools and to empower "multipliers", the ZMRB runs human rights education programs in elementary and secondary schools and supports schools in their efforts to include human rights education in the curriculum. Therefore the ZMRB advises schools and teaching staff on questions concerning human rights education and recommends the appropriate teaching materials, methods and tools. As the interest for human rights in other disciplines is growing, the ZMRB runs different human rights education programs with an interdisciplinary approach at other universities. Within all teaching, the ZMRB works with a philosophy- and law-based-approach and emphasizes the practice-orientation of human rights education, e. g. with a close collaboration with human rights NGOs and by opening different options for the students for concrete human rights engagement and project-work.
This teaching of the ZMRB is of course accompanied by research in the field of human rights education and of human rights and the evaluation and the development of teaching and study materials for different addressees.
Higher education processes should from our point of view never happen behind closed doors. Therefore the ZMRB tries to enhance the public human rights discourse e. g. with film festivals, art exhibitions, benefit concerts, the IHRF award for innovative human rights projects, the annual International Human Rights Forum Lucerne (IHRF), ...
The ZMRB provides workshops for the private sector, public administrations, the public health sector, media schools, and other institutions as well, giving an introduction to human rights or tackling the specific human rights challenges of the target audience.
We understand from our experience as a key success factor for the reinforcement or integration of human rights education within training institutions for teachers and educators the establishment or the enhancement of an institutional infrastructure to coordinate, to promote and to consult the establishment or the enhancement of sustainable training programs and courses for teachers and educators. These training opportunities should be part of the basic teacher training and in-service teacher training. Some of them should be compulsory, some of them optional (specialization). They should have a long-term perspective and should enjoy at the beginning the patience and the privilege to not be measured with the same rigor (e. g. number of participants, ...) as other programs as HRE needs enough time to give them enough time to be considered by the addressees.
How can we enhance the understanding of political representatives on the local and national level, representatives of teacher associations, school principals, teachers, decision makers within universities that it is necessary to integrate HRE in all stages of education and understood as a life-long learning process?
Which arguments could convince political representatives on the local and national level, representatives of teacher associations, school principals, teachers, decision makers within universities to promote the reinforcement or integration of HRE against the background of scarce financial resources and the lack of time within curricula?
From our point, similar strategies as with teacher training should be implemented regarding higher education institutions and programs in general and in the field of specific professional education. The establishment of an institutional fundament for HRE (e. g. institutes, centers, graduate and post-graduate programs, furthering of specific research programs and grants in human rights education) and of incentives for faculties, departments, institutes, centers with a content-based direct link to human rights education and research (Law, Humanities, ...) could have a significant effect.
We are looking forward to your thoughts and your feedback and we wish to express our gratitude for this opportunity to share our ideas and to get in a discussion with you.