EMPATHY In a complex country such as India, violations of human rights at all levels necessitate human rights education at all levels, writes N N Prahallada
In the broadest sense Human Rights refers to the right of every citizen in this country to be treated with dignity regardless of caste, community, gender and thereby realize their own capabilities and capacities. Access to education is but a part to this right to a life of dignity. In B Ed Programme , “Introducing Human Rights Education” as a Foundation Course is essential since the B Ed students have to understand the basic things about Human Rights Education (HRE) and its implications.
There can be two ways in which the question of human rights can be dealt within the context of education. One is to state that the education system should facilitate the spreading of an awareness of the importance of human rights and an awareness of the importance of human rights and an understanding of the premises on which they are based as well as the safeguards that are available for the protection of these rights. This can be broadly referred to as Human Rights Education (HRE). The second is to critically look at the practice of human rights within the education system.
The human rights education spreads human rights culture. Values are the bases for developing human rights culture. The human rights culture requires the following:
* Awareness amongst BED students about human rights and respecting the rights of others.
* Sensitizing B Ed students to develop capacities and confidence to stand for protection and safeguarding of their rights.
* Removing prejudices and reforming the attitude of B Ed students towards others.
An introspection of BED course, available throughout the length and breadth of the country, indicates that there is a need for integrating HRE with BED programme.
Concerted efforts need to be made, by all, in this direction.
Education about and for human rights includes the development of skills, among B Ed students, such as critical thinking, communication skills, problem-solving and negotiation, all of which are essential for effective human rights activism. Human Rights Education should be the fourth ‘R’ with Writing, Reading, and Arithmetic.
In India in 1993, the Protection of Human Rights Acts was enacted by the Government of India and it brought into being the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to operate as the nodal agency for promoting and fostering the culture of human rights and to oversee the implementation and infringements of human rights. NHRC accords importance to education, training and environment – building for human rights, besides its statutory functions. The policy initiatives of the NHRC include the following:
* Dialogue with the Ministry of HRD (Department of Education) and NCERT as well as State Governments to pursue the question of human rights instruction at various levels of schooling.
* Preparation of a source book by NCERT on human rights material for facilitating access by teachers and academics.
* Preparation of teacher training modules for pre-service and in-service stages by NCERT.
* Review of textbooks with a view to deleting from them references which may be prejudicial to human rights and replacing them with materials aimed at inculcating genuine sensitivity to and understanding of such rights.
* Dialogue with the University Grants Commission, Vice-Chancellors and Deans of Law Faculties suggesting that human rights find a place in undergraduate and post-graduate courses.
* Promotion and cooperation with NGOs active in this sphere. Special emphasis on orientation and training of officers and men of the armed forces, paramilitary forces, and the police to sensitize them to human rights.
Human rights culture may be promoted through development of values, beliefs, and attitudes which uphold human rights and also support human rights concepts.
The aim of human rights education is to build universal culture of human rights through imparting knowledge, skills, moulding of attitude, which are directed towards strengthening of fundamental freedom. Development of human personality helps in participating effectively in a free society which paves way and contributes a lot to prevent human rights violations.
The following activities may be undertaken to inculcate values related to Human Rights Education in the B Ed Course:
* Activities related to attitudinal changes
* Identifying the right or wrong practices
* Sensitizing the issues related to Human Rights
* Self-introspection and reasoning
* Identifying the congenial family environment
* Discussion on equality and justice concepts
* Avoiding discriminative tendencies in the classroom, related to sex, caste, creed, region, religion
* Sharing democratic practices
* Publishing and broadcasting socio-cultural-political information on campus.
Over the last six decades, the process of internationalization and globalization of the concept of human rights has generated the movement “All Human Rights for All”. In a complex country such as India, violations of human rights at all levels necessitate human rights education at all levels. Hence, Human Rights Education (HRE) should find its rightful place in the B Ed curriculum.