Africa: Enhancing Human Rights Courses in the Commonwealth

Published on All’Africa.com on December 6, 2006, from the Commonwealth News and Information Service.

A new model curriculum, designed to assist teachers in developing human rights courses, will be unveiled by the Commonwealth Secretariat on International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2006. The publication – developed by the Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit – aims to help raise the quality and quantity of human rights courses in Commonwealth law schools, colleges and universities.

“Ignorance and prejudice are the enemies of our collective progress,” Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Florence Mugasha said in London ahead of the launch of the publication, which will be made available at the 16th Commonwealth Education Ministers Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 11 December. “There is a responsibility and a challenge for teachers and educators in the Commonwealth to motivate, inform and respond to their young people and students on issues of human rights,” Ms Mugasha added.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Head of Human Rights Rabab Fatima said that the backdrop of the model curriculum is Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that “education should be directed to strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”. “We aim to assist teachers in developing interesting and stimulating courses,” Ms Fatima stated.

“By increasing the number and quality of university and other human rights courses offered in Commonwealth countries, we hope to instil in future leaders, lawyers, judges, decision-makers and civil activists a solid understanding of the significance of respecting and protecting human rights for long-term peace and progress.”

The Secretariat’s ongoing programme of developing courses on human rights, which also involves the Commonwealth Youth Programme, is intended to complement activities mandated at the 2005 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta to promote respect and understanding in communities across the Commonwealth.

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