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Relevance of Human Rights Education in Indian Society

Dr. Kamlesh Kumar


Since the dawn of human civilization, education has been playing a significant role in awakening, educating and empowering human beings for imparting multiple tasks in society. Thus, education is widely acknowledged an indicator for human development and seen as a way to enable people to improve their quality of life, leading to desired transformation in the social, cultural and economic policies and practices. The conceptual core of human rights education is human dignity, its rec­ognition, fulfillment, and universalization. As human rights are most readily adaptable to the study of positive peace, the social, political, and economic conditions most likely to provide the environment and process for social cohesion and nonviolent conflict resolution. Further more, The Vienna Declaration (2001) affirms that States should strive to eradicate illiteracy and should direct education towards the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The World Conference on Human Rights calls on all States and institutions to include human rights, humanitarian law, democracy and rule of law as subjects in the curricula of all learning institutions in formal and non-formal settings.

Human Rights Education is an indispensable part of the right to education and has gained larger recognition as a human right itself. The knowledge of the rights and freedoms, of oneself as much as of the others, is considered as a fundamental tool as mentioned in the Constitution of India to guarantee the respect of all rights for each and every person. The key stone of human rights education is that the education should not only aim at producing trained professional workers but also inculcating values of peace and tolerance for higher purpose. Human rights education aims at providing people and students with the abilities to accomplish and produce societal changes and respond social reality for realization of a sense of social justice for poor, marginalized and weaker section of society( NHRC 2007).


What is Human Rights Education?

Human Rights Education comprises efforts to build a universal culture of human rights through the imparting of knowledge and skills and the moulding of attitudes. Human Rights education should be directed towards:

  1. Strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

  2. Full development of human personality and the sense of its dignity;

  3. Promotion of understanding, tolerance, gender equality and friendship among all nations, indigenous peoples marginal groups and racial, national, ethnic, religious, and linguistic communities;

  4. Enabling of all persons to participate effectively in a free society ; and

  5. The further more of the activities of the UN for maintenance of peace (Tiwari 2004).

The focus of human rights education on the personality development of a human being in terms of not only literacy but also a world where all people would live in dignity with one another, free of humiliation, exploitation and discrimination. In fact, it is recognized that the measure of human development has failed to capture the distributional dimensions in human development. They are averages that conceal wide disparities in the overall population specifically marginalized groups such as sex, ethnicity, religion, caste and disability occurs through the process of inequality, exclusion and discrimination. Hence, the idea is that the people should be participating in decisions that determine their lives in a creative and productive way of peace building and harmonize the affairs of multicultural society without hatred and violence.

Human Rights Education : A Movement

The Human Rights education has become a worldwide movement, diversified and continually changing field, responding to developments in world society and, to some extent, to the advancing knowledge and insights of research & development. As practiced in elementary and secondary schools and presented in the university programs that prepare classroom teachers, human rights education goes by various names: conflict resolution, multicultural education, development education, world order studies, and, more recently, environmental edu­cation and Alternative Dispute resolution and restorative justice education. Each of these approaches responds to a particular set of problems that have been perceived as the causes of social injustice, conflict, and war. Each could also be classified as "preventive education" as it seeks to prevent the occurrence of the problems that inspire it. More important, each is conceived as education for searching peace through ensuring human rights of the stakeholders involved in conflicts and thus acknowledges that it is intended to be a means to the realization of a set of social values. Although each relates to building and structuring peace in the sense of social cohesion and the avoidance of the form of violence to which it responds, both peace researchers and activists and human rights scholars and advocates can agree that violence in all its forms is an as­sault on human dignity.

Models of Human Rights Education : There are three different models of human rights education prevalent in different parts of the world including India.

1.Values and Awareness Model

The Values and Awareness Model focuses on transmitting “basic knowledge of human rights issues and to foster its integration into public values” based on its philosophical-historical approach. This model is what people commonly think of when human rights are concerned with the beneficiary audience being the general public with topics including global human rights and more cultural based matters. This model includes environmental awareness, health and hygiene and also consumer related rights in day to day transactions with market.

2.Accountability Model

The Accountability Model is associated with the legal and political approach to-human rights in which the learners which the model beneficiaries are already involved via professional roles. The model is incorporated by means of training and networking, covering topics such as court cases, codes of ethics, and how to deal with the media including areas such as transparency, accountability, justice and right to information components included.

          1. 3.Transformation Model

This model of human rights education stressed on the psychological and sociological aspects of human rights. The topics towards which this model is effective are those including vulnerable populations and people with personal experiences effected by the topic, such as children, women, minorities and dalit rights. The model aims to empower the individual, such as victims of abuse and trauma. The model is geared towards recognizing the abuse of human rights but is also committed to preventing these abuses and conflict resolution aspects.

Need of Human Rights Education in India

In our Indian Society, we have embraced a very utilitarian model of education. For most Indians, the aim of education is to get a good job that pays a lucrative salary. As a result, parents put undue pressure on their wards and teachers to obtain stellar results on examinations. Schools have also succumbed to this uni-dimensional perspective and advertise the number of rank holders and professional college placements. In this process, education has lost its soul in terms of quality and its ability to maximize the potential of every individual child, build self-esteem and develop capacities to function fully as citizens and more than that, a good human being.

Recently, the school education policy was in news.. This is not the first time that we are debating the issue , understandably, with the aim to educate children in a most useful manner , without burdening their childhood. However, every time we ended up only in increasing the books and the weight of the bags. Still, according to a view, there are no clues why even some of the so-called highly educated people of these days are unable to match up the language and mathematical skills of a metric pass of the post-Independence era, or for that matter , why a child of a vegetable vendor, sitting next to his father at the shop, is sharp in mathematical calculations and has a better intelligent quotient than a child studying in a top public school? The point is what is the use of textual knowledge of so many subjects for children when it cannot be practically of use in their lives?.The debate on failing a student or promoting him under the ‘continuous and comprehensive evaluation policy’ or doing away with that has little relevance as a answer to such question. The focus should be on the process of the learning and its practical applicability and not on its outcome in terms of either the marks or grades, which are also based on , ultimately the marks. The efforts should be on creating an environment of real life situations and role plays, which will directly or indirectly require children to refer and understand various streams of subjects. There are several other important issues of human rights concerns(NHRC 2015).

An incident related to brutal murder of a school teacher in the country has been raised a big question on our education system which lost value in this regard. ..........

“Nothing is more shocking than the violence of children in school against teacher. A recent incident related to brutal murder of a schoolteacher by a 15-year-old boy student in a classroom in Chennai who was angry at being reprimanded for his poor performance in class has thrown up deeply disquieting questions on parenting, teaching, and social and cultural mores. By all accounts, the teacher did nothing beyond the ordinary routine. After the boy fared badly in the subject she taught, Hindi, she made notes in his school diary to draw the attention of his parents. Students in similar situations do tend to nurse a grudge against the teacher but, in this case, the boy went much further, planning the killing and waiting for an opportune moment to strike. Clearly, the murder was an extraordinary fallout of an everyday situation. What might otherwise have ended in a commonplace student prank against the teacher triggered a shocking, inexplicable act. This is what makes the task of guarding against the recurrence of such violence almost impossible in country like India in early days”( The Hindu 2012)

The above mentioned case is the reflection of the declining moral or ethical values in education system in the country. In this context, the students need to be equipped with skills and techniques to cope with life's strains and stresses. If we want a holistic education, we cannot ignore our interests and emotions as feeling are an integral aspect of being human. Both in words and deed, we as a society , should learn to be more emotionally sensitive and responsive to each other. Our education, in turn, will reflect our humanness and humanity i.e. human rights education for preparing a good human being in New Millennium( Public Opinion Survey 2012).

Development of Human Rights Education : Legal Framework


The foundation of human rights education is our Constitution of India. The preamble of the Constitution visioned freedom and rights to achieve social, economic and political justice. Further, the part third of the Constitution guarantees fundamental rights( Articles 14 to 32) and part fourth assigned some duties( Articles -51A) to the citizens. This way both parts are interrelated, interlinked and Interdependent.However

Citizens are morally obligated by the Constitution to perform these duties. However, like the Directive Principles, these are non-justifiable, without any legal sanction in case of their violation or non-compliance(Basu 1993).

However, in India some abortive efforts were made only in the mid eighties to promote human rights education in the country. In this direction, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had appointed a committee on Human Rights Education under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice S.M. Sikri, the then judge of Supreme Court of India in 1980. The Sikri Committee came up with a comprehensive report titled 'Blueprint for Promotion of Human Rights in India at All Levels' in 1985. The Report suggested a blueprint for teaching human rights in schools, colleges, and universities and in adult and continuing educational centres. The Sikri Committee Report was sent to NCERT and to various universities to initiate follow-up action in the matter. However, the UGC, NCERT, and the universities took no effective follow-up action till the late 1980s.An attempt to introduce human rights teaching in all universities was made in 1985 when a national symposium was organized by the Human Rights Centre of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, with support of the UNESCO and the UGC. The Symposium made a set of recommendations regarding teaching of human rights from primary level to college/university, including professional levels. Subsequently, its recommendations were published and widely circulated to all universities and educational institutions. It persuaded the University Grants Commission to introduce human rights education at the university level. As a result, human rights education is now being imparted in over 35 Universities /Colleges across the country and also in the National Law Schools(Tiwari 2004).

The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993: A Turning Point

The Parliament of India has passed the protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and through the provisions of the Act, new Institutions were set up as National human Rights Commission(NHRC), State Human Rights Commission(SHRC) and Human Rights Court. Under Section 12(g) of the Act, the Statute of the Commission requires to undertake and promote research and to create awareness and literacy in the field of human rights in collaboration with universities, institutions and non-governmental organizations and media.

The National Human Rights Commission in collaboration with the NCERT had brought out a Source Book on Human Rights in 1996. The source book is prepared for the promotion of Human Rights Education in the country at School level and Dossiers on Human Rights Education for Beginners (2005) for college and University level. Further, NHRC Recommended Module on Human Rights Education for Teaching Professionals for Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary levels (2007) and National Curriculum Framework for University Students on Human Rights Education(NHRC 2007).

A Comparative Chart of Exiting Model Curriculum recommended by University Grants Commission (UGC) and Curriculum National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Foundation Course for Human Rights Education


UGC Syllabus (2001)


NHRC Curriculum (2007)

Course Content

Course Content

1.Conceptual Background of Human Rights and Duties

1. Relevance of the study on Human Rights in India 1. Social Aspects; 2. Economic Aspects and 3, Political Aspects

(i) Rights: inherent,inalienable, universal, indivisible

(ii) Value : dignity, liberty, equality , justice, unity and diversity

(iii) Need for balance between Rights and Duties, Freedom and Responsibility.

(ii) Evaluation of Human Rights and Duties

  1. Inter -Civilization approach to Human Rights;

  2. Theoretical Perspectives

  3. Developmental Perspectives

  4. Human Rights Movement in India

  1. Philosophical and Historical Perspectives

(i) Theories of Human Rights

(ii) Histories of Human Rights

(iii) Human Rights Movement

(iii)Human Rights : International Norms

  1. UDHR

  2. Civil and Political Rights

  3. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  4. Rights against Torture, discrimination and force Labor

  5. Rights of Children

3. International Human Rights Standards

(iv) Human Rights Duties in India

(i) Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948

  1. Preamble to the Constitution of India

  2. Human Rights and Duties in the Constitution : Normative Analysis

(ii) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,1966

V. Redressal Mechanism for Human Rights Violations

  1. Judge

  2. Government System for Redressal

  3. National Human Rights Commissions and other Statutory Commission

  4. Media Advocacy

  5. Creation of Human Rights Literacy and Awareness

(iii) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,1966

4. Human Rights and Duties in India

(i) Evolution : Independence Movement, Making of the Constitution

(ii) Indian Constitution :

  1. Fundamental Rights

  2. Directive Principles

  3. Fundamental Duties

  4. Their interrelationship

(iii) Enforcement and Protection Mechanism of Human Rights Violation

VI. Deprivation of Human Rights : The Core Issues

(a) Judiciary

1. Poverty , Over Population, illiteracy

(b) National Human Rights Commission and Committee

2. Problem of Unsustainable Development

(c) Non-Government Organization

3. Disadvantage Groups

(d) Information Media

A. Women

(e) Education

B. Children

5. Societal Problem : Core Problem

C. Schedule Caste/Tribes

(a) Poverty , Underdevelopment and illiteracy

D. Homeless and Slum dwellers

(b) Women, Children and disadvantaged groups

E. Physically and Mentally


F. Refugees and Internally displaced person

6.Importance of Internalizing Human Rights and Duties

VII. Good Governance

Urgent need for not only sensitizing others of human rights and duties, but of practing oneself than values : Self inculcation duty to respect others rights respect each other human rights.

  1. Democracy

  1. Guaranteed Freedom

  2. People’s Participation

Foundation Course, as its title suggests,

aims to impart to the undergraduate

students a general idea of the principal

aspects of human rights and duties in a

broad sweep. The aspects addressed

by 6 units of instructions include the

values of human rights and duties,

philosophical and historical foundations,

basic international human rights norms,

the normative and institutional

mechanism of human rights and duties

in India, and Indian societal problems.

The Committee also realized the

importance of highlighting the need for

internalizing Human Rights and Duties

values.

2. Rule of Law

A. Non-Arbitrariness

B. Fairness in Criminal Justice System

C.Curbing corruption

3. Open and Transparant Governance

A. Right to information

B. Whistle Blowing : Public Exposure

Of unfair Practices and abuses of Public Authority

Foundation course as its title suggests aims to provide compulsory foundation at the undergraduate level across all disciplines. To sensitize the students in the general principles and aspects of human rights.The seven units of instruction include the values of human rights and duties, philosophical and historical foundations,international human rights norms and

mechanisms for implementation of human rights and duties in India. The course shall identify some societal

problems and strive to examine, analyse and internalize them in the course of field work/project undertaken in addition to course work.

New Thrust Research Areas in Human Rights :

There are emerging areas in field of promotion and protection of human rights in India;

  1. Human Rights and Role of Local bodies and PRIs

  2. Human Protection through Human Rights Courts

  3. Human Rights and Missing Children

  4. Human Rights and Witch-hunting(crime against women in rural area)

  5. Human Rights and Honor Killings

  6. Human Rights and Wages in Informal Sectors

  7. Human Rights and Right to Strike and bandh

  8. Human Rights and Acid Throwing cases against girls

  9. Human Rights and Disabled women

  10. Human Rights and Non-State Actors

  11. Human Rights and Media

  12. Human Rights and Human Rights Defenders

  13. Human Right and Rights to Elect or Reject ( Electoral Reform)

  14. Human Rights and Terrorism

  15. Human Rights and child Labor

  16. Human Rights and Bounded Labor

  17. Human Rights and Refugees

  18. Human Rights and Illegal Migration

  19. Human Rights and Homelessness

  20. Human Rights and Hunger

  21. Human Rights and Poverty

  22. Human Rights and Illiteracy

  23. Human Rights and Dalits

  24. Human Rights and Minority

  25. Human Rights and Tribal

  26. Human Rights and Disaster Management

  27. Human Rights and Climate Change

  28. Human Rights and Environment

  29. Human Rights and Unorganised Sector

  30. Human Rights and Media( NHRC 2007).

Beyond Institution : Creating a Culture of Human Rights

India has become one of the fastest growing major economies in the world and is recognized as a newly industrialized countries (NIC)which falls between developed and developing nations. Despite over six decades of Indian development experience, poverty, illiteracy, ill-health, unemployment, environment pollution and combating terrorism, communal and caste based violence, domestic violence, corruption and poor governance are many more issues pertaining to human rights violation. The National Human Rights Commission(NHRC), since its set up has recorded numerous complaints which are growing every year.. However, growing violations is considered as growing awareness of human rights in the county.For instance, the National Human Rights Commission has observed :

“The organized violence directed against members of identified groups/communities has been a distinct feature of the Indian society for quite sometime. Though violence does take place in the process of change in many societies, and particularly so when radical alterations take place in the existing social and power relations, it usually does not-choose its victims on the basis of birth in a given social entity. In India, however, this is precisely what has defined the character of violence in relation to certain groups. The country has witnessed increase in both caste and communal violence since independence which the processes of modernization have not abated. Rather, in some respects, it has been intensified by them. While communal violence is a relatively recent phenomenon rooted in the events leading to partition, caste violence has a much longer history and a firmer anchorage. It also has the distinctiveness of being embedded in the social structure of the dominant community itself which lays down the norms of conduct between its more privileged groups and the subordinated segment of society(NHRC,2004).

In the above mentioned context, there has been a growing realization that human rights cannot be taught only by formal way of teaching. Hence, the need felt to involve civil society groups for create awareness to educate public by way of non-formal education methodology through audio-video, film and documentary, painting and poster drawing as well as involving participants in role playing and maping locality and community prone to victimisation or re-victimisatin due to their caste, class, gender, poverty, identity, religion and region etc

While recognizing United Nations Declaration (1998) the right and the responsibility of individuals, groups and associations to promote respect for and foster knowledge of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels. That could be translated into the local level towards resolving conflicts, ensuring social justice and promoting peace.

At village level, with the help of Aganwardi workers, community health workers ASHA and social workers could generate awareness among the villagers about their health and education rights. It can include women rights’, reproductive health and children malnutrition rights. At Taluka (Block) and District Legal Service Authority can play a pivotal role in creating legal awareness and also handle local conflicts through technique of ADR. The Human rights education that sees itself devoted specifically to “ transforming conflicts” has been primarily problem-centered, focusing on the reduction, avoidance, and elimination of conflict As such, it has been devoted more to a study directed toward eliminating the causes of conflict and also understanding of consequences as well as remedial or preventive measures towards establishing peace process though enrollment of various stakeholders. Therefore, people in the society or community need human rights and human duties. The people need to update about their rights and responsibility, law and practice of social action which helped in reducing conflict and amicable peace process.

The local civil society organizations including NGOs and media persons should take up responsibility to creating a culture of human rights in society. The non-government organizations and local media should focus on youth community and prepare them as citizen journalists and human rights volunteers. Individuals have to play a constructive role in taking up issue of human rights fact finding, documentation and media advocacy.Overall the mass movement for cause of human rights and concern for each and every one is the responsibility of Individuals, youths, media and voluntary organizations towards public education and awareness which works as part and parcel of human rights itself. Eventually, in the age of Information, Social media might make a difference through various use of computer, Internet, mobile phones etc and can prevent many abuses and heal victims and survivors.

CONCLUSION

An Integrated Model combined with formal and non-formal way of creating awareness and spreading public education along with institutional framework is expected to be proved significant change in the domain of human rights education. While this model is involving actors and institutions to unleash their potential and creativity towards capability of individuals, groups of people and community for action oriented solution of human rights violations.

Readings

Basu, Durga Das (1993). Introduction to the Constitution of India (15th ed.). New Delhi :Prentice Hall of India

NHRC,2004 : Report on Atrocities on SCs/STs, New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission;New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission

NHRC, 2005 : Human Rights Education for Beginners, New Delhi : National Human Rights Commission;New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission

NHRC,2007 : Recommendations of National Human Rights Commission for Human Rights Education at the University and College levels; New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission

NHRC,2007 : Recommendations of National Human Rights Commission for Module on Human Rights Education for Teaching Professionals imparting Education in Primary, Higher Secondary Levels; New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission

NHRC, 2015: National Human Rights Commission, NHRC Newsletter, Vol.22,No.9,p.1 Sept.2015

Public Opinion Survey, 2012 : What You Loose When You Buy and Education, Monthly Public Opinion Surveys, Vol. LVII, No.6 March,2012,pp.13-14

Tiwari, A 2004 : Human Rights Education :Role of Teaching and Training Institution, The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol.65, Issue 3, July,423-445

The Hindu,2012: Murder in Classroom, Chennai: Editorial, The Hindu, Feb.2012


Endnotes :

Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (2001) Adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna on 25 June 1993. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, also known as VDPA, is a human rights declaration adopted by consensus at the World Conference on Human Rights on 25 June 1993 in Vienna,Austria. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was created by this Declaration endorsed by General Assembly Resolution 48/121.

UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility(1998) of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms adopted by General Assembly resolution 53/144 of 9 December 1998

Author's Intro

*Dr. Kamlesh Kumar

*Research Associate at Nodal Centre of Excellence for Human Rights Education (NCEHRE ), School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences(TISS), Deonar, Mumbai-400088; E-mail: kamleshk@tiss.edu




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