What is the outlook for human rights education in Ukraine?

On November 28, the All-Ukrainian conference “Outlook for the Human Rights Education in Ukraine” was held in Kyiv, attended by representatives of state authorities, non-governmental organizations and educators from all over Ukraine.

Conference organizers, in particular, the Human Rights Education House from Chernihiv, believe that human rights education may be the most effective tool in preventing human rights violations, both in the country as a whole, in general, and in the field of education, in particular. In the face of hybrid warfare and the state reforms, human rights education should be a necessary component in the general system of education. It should help create a human rights culture in Ukraine to protect human values, according to international standards.

“We spend a great deal of time and efforts trying to persuade our government authorities to apply a systemic approach to human rights education. Many problems emerge as a result of disregard for such a comprehensive approach and, unfortunately, a distorted understanding of human rights that is widespread in our society”, explains Serhiy Burov, ODIHR Executive Director in Chernihiv.

He added that non-governmental initiatives may have a very effective impact on the emergence of human rights education, but in order to achieve tangible results, the support and positive action from the government are required.

Roman Romanov, the IRF Program Director, is convinced: “Now it is important to find ways to combine the experience of NGOs with the right intentions of institutions and ministries to make human rights education part of public policy”. Therefore, this conference was intended to establish a dialogue between the authorities, educators and the public, to ensure joint effective actions.

During the conference, not only the Program was presented, but also a number of recommendations were developed to improve it. Human rights activists, lawyers, university educators, educational administrators, teachers, students, civil servants from various educational institutions and experts of international organizations have tried to develop a common vision of the Program and to foresee potential risks. The numerous suggestions and recommendations formulated during the meeting will be laid out in a summary document, so that that the conference participants will be able to look again at the text and make their corrections.

According to the authors of the document, the National Program is extremely important, as it will shape us the strategy for the development of human rights education in Ukraine. Therefore, the Program is essentially an answer to such social challenges as the low level of public awareness of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as mechanisms for their protection; lack of understanding of the human rights concepts; lack of the lifelong education system in the field of human rights as part of public policy, etc.

Other crucial problems of the Ukrainian society were discussed in the “ignite” talks format, which enjoyed active participation from representatives of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations (Iryna Suslova); the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (Oleksandr Pyzhov); the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine (Ivan Shemelynets) and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Ukraine; the Office for the Development of the Humanitarian Policy of Ukraine (Oleksandra Dvoretska); the Education Ombudsman (Serhiy Gorbachev). In particular, the participants were keen to discuss what the public policy in the field of human rights education should be like; who should take the lead in developing the public policy for human rights education; human rights education: sustainable policy or a situational response to societal challenges?

The conference participants have also presented and discussed the results of “piloting” educational models, namely: “University – Human Rights Space” and “School – Human Rights Territory”; shared the experience of schools and universities – project participants – as regards the creation of the educational environment in accordance with the principles of human rights: respect to dignity, rule of law, freedom and non-discrimination.

The event was held in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the OSCE Project Coordinator, NGO “ZMINA Human Rights Center”, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Amnesty International in Ukraine, NGO “SOS Parents”, Switzerland – Ukrainian educational project “Development of Civic Competences in Ukraine” by DOCCU, NGO “Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine” with the financial support of the International Renaissance Foundation and the Human Rights House Fund.

You can read more about the Program and the course of the event on the page of the Human Rights Education House in Chernihiv.

Conference photo

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