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FOCUS June 1999 Volume 16

Training for Commitment-Building

Southeast Asia Training Workshop on Human Rights Education in School
Bali, Indonesia, April 26-29, 1999

The widening space for collaboration in the field of human rights between non-governmental organizations and government institutions opens a whole new perspective on human rights training. Representatives of these institutions, which have not traditionally been working as partners, have begun to join training programs together. In these education activities, the participants' shared understanding and commitment toward common goal become primary considerations. A major part of the training must therefore be devoted to exchange, clarification, and, hopefully, agreement on views about human rights and/or human rights education.

The recently held Southeast Asia training workshop on human rights education in school shows that such training perspective is worth applying. This training was attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations and government institutions involved in education (or human rights education) in Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam (invitees from Malaysia were not able to participate).

Human rights concepts, societal conditions, supporting and hindering factors for programming on human rights education in schools, and areas for development were discussed and clarified during the whole workshop.

Southeast Asia Pilot Teachers' Training Workshop on Human Rights Education

HURIGHTS OSAKA jointly organized a pilot training workshop with the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia and the Centre for Human Rights Studies (Universitas Surabaya) on April 26-29, 1999 in Bali, Indonesia. (Financial support was provided by SEAFILD and UNESCO [Jakarta office]).

This training followed an ASEAN perspective by

  1. Focusing on the experiences of various institutions within ASEAN;

  2. Situating human rights education programs within the existing realities in the subregion;

  3. Discussing the issue of culture and human rights in the context of the subregion; and

  4. Developing an ASEAN vision for human rights education.

The training workshop also stressed the importance of continuing linkage among ASEAN institutions involved in human rights education in schools.

The participant-centered approach was employed in the training workshop. Most activities focused on the participants while facilitators gave minimal input. There were, strictly speaking, no resource persons in the training workshop. Small group activities occupied major parts of the program. Participants were grouped interchangeably as mixed groups, country groups, and position-based groups (e.g., curriculum developers, education researchers, and teacher trainers). Three teams of participants from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines demonstrated the use of human rights lesson plans in a local high school in Bali, Indonesia.

Major Components of Training Design

The training workshop was composed of the following major issues:

  1. Human rights concept and vision. This included presentations and discussions on the current human rights situation, societal issues, national histories, and sectoral concerns (such as those of children);

  2. HRE and the School Curriculum. This comprised reporting on human rights education programs in ASEAN countries, discussions on the profile of human rights advocates (teachers and students), and development of model human rights curriculum.

  3. Teaching methodology. This consisted of making lesson plans, modules, and teaching guides. It also included an actual classroom teaching demonstration of the lesson plans developed or adopted by the participants.

Training Participants

Since people who occupy influential positions in the education system are more capable of promoting human rights education much more effectively in their respective areas of work, the training workshop focused on them.

In view of this, people who have the following qualifications were sought:

  1. Occupying a position of influence in the education system;

  2. Interest in a particular subject related to human rights; and

  3. Interest in social justice issue.

English language proficiency was added as a qualification due to the subregional character of the training workshop.

The training workshop was able to get the participation of teacher trainers, teaching material developers, curriculum developers, officers of teacher colleges/education faculties of universities, education researchers, and school administrators.

Common grounds

The Southeast Asia Pilot Teachers' Training Workshop attempted to find common grounds upon which discussion on human rights education can be based. Thus a review of the existing situation in ASEAN is the logical first step undertaken. In this training, for example, the ideas that came out can be summed up as follows:

  1. Various manifestations of culture affect the human rights situation in ASEAN. They can be:

    1. Culture of war and violence, which means the lack of system to peacefully resolve conflicts;

    2. Familialism, which puts the family as the only important consideration (leading to the practice of serving the family even to the point of using illegal means such as corrupt practices);

    3. Culture of patriarchy, which affects women most especially;

    4. Culture of impunity, which shields government officials from accountability for wrongdoing/serious failure to perform official duties;

    5. Culture of silence, which afflicts most people especially the poor, and which is supplemented by the policy of silence and impunity by those who have power;

    6. Death penalty which threatens the protection of the right to life.

  2. ASEAN has been undergoing economic change and development, which affects the education system as shown in the case of Vietnam;

  3. The principle of the rule of law has been disregarded for a long time. Now it is becoming an important issue in the changing situations in ASEAN countries;

  4. Government-people relationship is being redefined. There is a growing move toward a government of, for, and by the people;

  5. The meaning of human rights in relation to the family, school, and society is now seen as an important issue to take up.

Such shared understanding of the situation between the representatives of non-governmental organizations and government institutions formed a solid foundation for discussions on appropriate program on human rights education in schools.

The discussions on factors in schools that either inhibit or support human rights education show once again the congruence of experiences and ideas among the participants. Tables 1-3 contain the summary of some of the small group discussions:

Table 1

Inhibiting factors
Supporting factors
Feasible measures

· Inappropriate teaching methods, and materials
· Over-loaded curriculum

· Pre-occupation with exams
· Lack of mandate for HRE
· Lack of recognition of the needs of HRE
· Restrictive school rules and regulations
· Unsupportive school environment
· Lack of preparedness of the government education agency
· Different situations between public and private schools

In relation to the teachers:

· Undesirable attitude
· Lack of training
· Lack of skill/competence
· Lack of human rights awareness
· Lack of motivation/ indifference
· Fear of reaction by government, school, and students
· Fear of talking about human rights

In relation to human rights concept:

· Unclear relationship b/w human rights and other issues
· Misconception of human rights

In relation to society:

· Consumerism
· Traditional values and culture

· Existence of NGO movements

· Support from national human rights commissions

· Support from UNESCO

· People's awareness of human rights

· Support from Asian foundations

· Existence of National Action Plan on HRE/ National constitutional or legal mandate/government policy

· Provision of funds for HRE

· Commitment of some government and non-governmental agencies to HRE

· Education/ Curriculum reform

· Inclusion of human rights in some subjects/ State ideology subjects

· Support from parents

· Moral support from other sectors

· Awareness of minority groups

· Educators, not activists, are getting active

· Use of local art, music and values

· Simplification of the notion of human rights

· Exposure programs for students

· Seminars and workshops

· Use of media

· Development of teaching methods

· Government lobby work

· Curriculum reform

· Intensive teacher training

· Fund raising

· Networking among schools, organizations and individuals

· Adoption of appropriate school management system

· Creation of system of cooperation b/w government and NGOs

· HRE awareness raising programs

Table 2


· Humane (kindness, friendship, caring)

· Open-minded

· Committed

· Tolerant

· Respectful of /sensitive to differences

· Conscientious

· Role model

· Good listener

· Vigilant

· Optimistic

· Sincere and honest

· Sense of fairness, justice

· Courageous

· Concern for others

· Respect for one's self and others

· Issues & problems of human rights

· Good overview of human rights movement (in and out)

· Human rights violations redress procedure

· Alternative, effective teaching methodologies

· Basic human rights concepts and principles.

· Human rights situationer

· Local culture/values related to human rights.

· Current economic, social and political situationer (international, national and regional)

· Forms of violations of human rights

· UN conventions related to human rights

· Social standards

· Human rights teaching skills

· Sense of innovation and creativity in teaching HR

· Communication skills

· Good leadership and motivation

· Participatory approach

· Conflict management/negotiation

· Ability to measure, promote, solve human rights problems

· "Pedagogy of love"

· Socialization of human rights

Table 3


· Caring

· Respectful of differences

· Respectful of the self

· Peace -loving

· Assertive

· Self-confident

· Self-reliant

· Courageous and optimistic

· Socially responsible

· Responsibility for social action

· Good behavior

· Respectfulness

· Social responsibility

· Belief in the correctness of morals

· Service-orientation

· Local culture/values related to human rights

· Current economic, social and political situation (international, national and regional)

· Forms of violations of human rights

· UN conventions related to human rights

· Understanding of social standards

· Human rights concepts

· Critical Thinking

· Peace building

· Ability to act suitably according to social standards

· Ability to cooperate

· Human rights practitioner

· Capability to reflect

· Ability to use conflict resolution mechanism

The schools, the teachers and the students are the main focus of the major issues in human rights education in schools. The entries in the three tables above stress the point that the development of program for human rights education in schools has to deal with these issues. The participants who initially identified these issues in separate groups invariably came up with similar ideas. These tables contain the summaries of the ideas expressed. They indicate the similarity of situations in the countries represented in the training workshop. They also identify common concerns that people in ASEAN countries can work on together.

One can note that many of the entries in the tables above relate to the issues arising from a reading of the ASEAN realities.

Teaching Demonstration

One of the highlights of the training workshop is the use in a real classroom setting of the lesson plans that participants had prepared. A public senior high school in Denpasar, Bali (SMU 1 Denpasar - Sekolah Menengah Umum - 1st grade State Senior High School) was selected for the teaching demonstration Three classes of 16-17 year old students were selected. The 45-minute teaching demonstration extended to more than an hour. It was done in English. The feared language problem did not arise. The students were able to understand the guest teachers well, and both the workshop participants and the students enjoyed the sessions.

It was the first time for the Denpasar school to have sessions on human rights. It was also the first time for the training participants to teach Indonesian students. On the whole, the teaching demonstration was a concrete learning exercise for the training participants, the schoolteachers and administrators, and the students in the three classes.


The training participants were not simply trained on a particular area of work. They were instead exposed to the process of holding a training workshop which emphasizes their participation and which values dialogue and understanding among themselves.

Indeed, the significance of the training workshop lies more on employment of the idea that a participant-centered activity can provide enough room for participants to feel free to express ideas, ask questions, and learn from fellow participants and facilitators.

This process of mutual learning and understanding of both the realities in society and the idea of human rights education in the context of formal education hopefully paved the way for the participants to build or increase their commitment to the teaching of human rights to school children. Additionally, it is hoped that the training workshop provided ideas which can help them adopt a human rights perspective and translate the human rights principles into school rules and regulations, lesson plans, curricula, training program, etc..

At the end of the day, the most important question is: What can I concretely and feasibly do for human rights education? The training workshop hopefully made the participants think about it.

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