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Six Amazing Resources for Human Rights Educators

Human rights education (HRE) is a concept used for education programs and activities which enhance equality, dignity, and rights for all. Educators around the world have specialized in human rights and embarked on the mission to promote a culture of universal human rights. The international community is also well aware that human rights have to be implemented through education and not only legal fora, which is why several international organizations and universities have begun to publish HRE education to help the educators.

Here are some the most amazing sources for human rights educators.

1.      Amnesty International’s Human Rights Education

Amnesty International is one of the pioneers of Human Rights Education. Their HRE platform is a regularly-updated, endless pool of resources for human rights educators, established with the aim to equip them with the skills that promote human equality and dignity for all with the goal to take action for human rights. The materials are usually available in multiple languages.

There are several different features human rights educators can benefit from through Amnesty International. Firstly, there are Amnesty International’s free online courses. At the moment, everyone who is interested can attend the Human Rights Defenders course on the EdX platform free of charge. The course takes 4 weeks to complete.

Next, Amnesty also creates a number of lesson plans and materials to be used in the classroom. For example, lesson plans for the Write for Rights campaign are available in English, French, and Spanish. Educators can use them to help their students gain the writing and thinking skills which are necessary to this form of human rights advocacy. Furthermore, the organization actively works on human rights-friendly schools, so many sources deal with this topic and assist school employees in making their institution more human rights-friendly.

Finally, educators from all over the world share their experiences and techniques on Amnesty’s Education Blog. On the blog, you can also find out about new online courses before they are launched.

2.      Compass: Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People

Established by the Council of Europe, Compass has been a valuable resource for human rights educators since 2002. On the website, educators can access the Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People, which is divided into five different chapters. These include practical activities and methods to be used in the classroom, as well as a section of taking action for human rights. Furthermore, one of the chapters concerns important background info on an array of human rights themes such as citizenship and participation, gender, migration, and peace and violence. The information given about each topic is quite extensive and complemented by examples, questions, and exercises.

In total, Compass offers over seventy different exercises that human rights educators can use in distinct cultural contexts and with different age groups. These activities are categorized on the basis of the human rights topic they related to, preferred group size, complexity, and time need for their completion. Another useful tool included in this manual is Human Rights Calendar, which notes and describes all important dates for human rights. Links to further readings and sources are also listed.

The Compass Manual is currently available in 30 different languages.

Other HRE sources by the Council of Europe:

Please note that there a special version of Compass called Compasito, designed for children from six to thirteen years old.

In addition, the Council of Europe has prepared a separate manual called Gender Matters with the purpose of educating young people on how gender-based violence affects them.

The Council of Europe’s “All Different – All Equal” campaign also resulted in valuable HRE sources which serve to raise awareness of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and intolerance, and how to successfully combat them. This is a particularly great resource for everyone working on intercultural communication and education.

3.      Equitas Tools for Education

Equitas is one of Canada’s most well-known and active human rights education organization. The organization works tirelessly on HRE materials, all of which are accessible online. The tools available aspire to motivate people around the world to educate others about human rights and take action in their communities.

The HRE program of Equitas specializes in four major areas: gender equality, child and youth participation, building the capacity of human rights defenders, and evaluation of human rights education. Under each of these topics, Equitas has published several handbooks and guides. For instance, when it comes to gender equality, there is a comprehensive guide on women’s rights in Muslim communities, and on monitoring and reporting women’s rights in Kazakhstan, with a number of workshop material, exercises, and teaching modules. Children’s rights can be taught via the Human Rights Education Toolkit called “Play It Fair!” which has numerous fun and interactive activities.

The Human Rights Defenders scheme is particularly well-equipped with region or topic-specific materials, written not only for educators but participants as well. Some of these resources are available in languages other than English.

These tools and materials are followed up by the Equitas Shares It HRE blog, and online courses.

4.      Human Rights Resource Center, University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Library is a famous resource among human rights students and professionals all around the world. As a part of the library, University of Minnesota has also been publishing HRE sources under the Human Rights Resource Center. The idea behind the project is to help human rights educators in the US and abroad build a culture of human rights in their communities.

The Human Rights Education Series includes several e-books. There is the foundation volume, which is a general introduction to human rights, and another eight manuals for human rights educators, each of them dealing with a different topic. Some of the topics covered so far are economic and social justice, LGBT rights, rights of persons with disabilities, and indigenous rights. Each of these books includes theory and practice, and there are many useful activities for adult students and children.

The Human Rights Resource Center has links to other online materials and human rights-related classroom activities. Additional standout features are human rights presentations on about a dozen different topics. Educators are free to use them in their current form or modify them to better fit the curricula they are following.

Inspired by Close the Gap documentary series on race and class, the Human Rights Resource Center has also created two guides – one for educators and another one for community leaders and members – to help foster dialogue about racial and class issues.

Some of the activities are translated into several different languages.

5.      UN OHCHR’s Human Rights Education Series

Human rights education is among the many activities of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR). The organization’s website has a useful Human Rights Education series among its publications. This series is composed of guides with methodological and reference tools relating to the World Program for Human Rights Education. Most materials are written, but there are also some multimedia resources that educators can explore to enhance their knowledge or discuss them with their students.

“ABC – Teaching Human Rights: Practical Activities for Primary and Secondary Schools” is one of the OHCHR sources human rights educators can particularly benefit from. It contains a great body of case studies, examples, activities, and questions for discussions. Like most other materials, this, too, is available in several languages.

Another category of the OHCHR’s publications is called Professional Training Series. The guidebooks aim to educate professionals who can have an impact on the human rights situation in their country. For example, there is a manual on how to report to the United Nations human rights treaty bodies, or how to approach the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Educators can greatly benefit from these materials as they include effective pedagogical techniques and classroom activities.

6.      HREA, the Global Human Rights Education and Training Centre

HREA is an international non-governmental organization which specializes in HRE and training of human rights defenders. The organization publishes a variety of educational materials in order to foster peaceful, free, and just communities.

Educators and all other interested professionals and students can join one of HREA’s online courses. The courses are either self-directed or tutored, and fall within 13 broad human rights areas, including policy-making, project management, and advocacy. Although the courses are not free of charge, the registration fee is very reasonable in order to make the courses accessible to all. New courses start in February 2018, and take six weeks to complete. Self-directed courses are available all year round and are offered in English and French.

In addition, HREA regularly organizes training workshops to provide human rights professionals with new practical skills. The upcoming workships HREA has prepared in 2018 concern gender responsive budgeting, child rights governance, and human trafficking and smuggling.

Last but not least, HREA’s Resource Center contains thousands of archived HRE material published by the organization in the past 18 years. The center is currently offline for improvement, but you can still explore the archived version of the site.

We hope you will take advantage of these human rights education materials and explore the online portals for more links which can be of help. Spread the word about these free materials, and enjoy gaining new knowledge and skills!

About the author


Maja Davidovic

Maja Davidovic is a Serbian-born independent researcher and Human Rights graduate. She holds her M.A. degree from Central European University in Budapest, and had previously lived and worked in Greece, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Maja mostly researches about women’s rights, child protection and transitional justice, and has been involved with organizations such as MSF and OSCE, as well grassroots initiatives. You may follow her on her newly-made Twitter profile @MajaADavidovic, where she aspires to open discussions on a variety of human rights-related issues.