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FOCUS March 1997 Volume 7

HRE through Community Education

Education programs are important part of most non-governmental organizations. These programs are not usually known to be related to human rights education. Yet a better understanding of these programs, especially those that refer to community education, reveals a wealth of experience on issue and action-oriented human rights education work. It likewise shows extensive grassroots level human rights education programs that have been in place for years.

This reality is confirmed in a national conference on human rights education and community educators held in the Philippines recently. What came out of the conference reflects experiences on human rights education in other countries in the region. Several key issues are the following:

  1. new grounds - new grounds - with expressed reservations in working with government, some groups have aimed at changing perspectives on human rights education in government programs, and introducing new educational methods and systems;
  2. curriculum development - there is a growing trend toward the adoption of principles of liberative education framework in developing the content of human rights education activities;
  3. use of theatre - theatre seem as an experiential form of understanding human rights helps the communities articulate their problems better;
  4. paralegalism - parelegal training, using the skills and resources of members of the community, forms a significant aspect of human rights education as it dwells not only on the knowledge of human rights but also in the exercise of rights.

The conference also revealed the weaknesses found in many community education programs such as:

  1. deficient employment of human rights concepts as when issues are not always explicitly linked to human rights standards;
  2. ambivalence in the meaning of human rights and human rights education as in the seemingly different perception of rights under the UN standards and the grassroots concept;
  3. limitation of human rights content to specific needs and issues that leaves our the general understanding of human rights;
  4. lack of link with other NGOs with human rights programs to better address other needs of the community;
  5. limited knowledge on the different human rights education activities; and
  6. lack of convergence of two approaches of human rights education - community issues to human rights concept approach, and human rights concept to community issues approach. In most cases, community education starts with the analysis of problems affecting the community before discussing relevant human rights standards. But no effort has yet been done to see how the two approaches can be both employed in a program.

The conference called "Lundayan ng Karapatan" was held in the Philippines on December 7-10, 1996 by several NGOs led by PROCESS and supported by the People's Decade for Human Rights Education.

For further information, contact: PROCESS-Women's Desk, Room 301 PSSC Building, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon city, Philippines. Tel. (632) 928-97-45.

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