25 SES 02, Children's Human Rights Education
Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than 70 years ago and especially since the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, human rights education has spread all over the world. In parallel, the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1989 has led to an intense debate about the status of children’s rights, the right to education, and education that promotes children’s rights (Quennerstedt, 2015). In Switzerland, the international developments have not gone unnoticed. The UN Decade on Human Rights Education, the World Programme on Human Rights Education and the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, in whose drafting Switzerland played an important role, has led to more awareness about the importance of human rights education in the Swiss schooling system. At the same time, the ratification of the UNCRC in 1997 has sparked debates about the meaning of the right to education and what it entails in terms of contents, methods and objectives of the educational system. While a broader public debate did not take place, several members of Parliament asked the Federal Government to take action to promote children’s rights and human rights education in school (Rinaldi, 2018).
In the literature and research that address the conceptualisation and theoretical underpinnings these educational approaches, two distinct lines can be identified: While some argue that children’s rights are human rights and thus that children’s rights education is an integral part of human rights education (children’s human rights education) (e.g. Brantefors, et al, 2016; Tibbitts, 2017 ; Thelander, 2016), others consider children’s rights education as a distinct educational concept or at least recognise its specificities (Louviot et al., in press). One element, however, is rather undisputed: the promotion of a more just, peaceful and sustainable world - in line with the UN Charter and its overarching goals.
In this presentation, we will try to identify the main conceptual and theoretical commonalities and differences between children’s rights education and human rights education. We will then look at three Swiss primary and lower-secondary framework curricula (French-, German- and Italian-speaking) and analyse how these educational concepts are practically conceptualised, as well as how they are expected to be implemented within the formal schooling system. The following questions guided our research:
- Do the terms “children’s rights education” and “human rights education” describe one and the same educational concept or are there conceptual and theoretical differences between the two concepts?
- How do the Swiss primary and lower-secondary framework curricula promote sustainable, peaceful and equitable global coexistence through children’s rights education and/or human rights education?
- How can inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to children’s rights and human rights education be integrated in subject-based curricula? Which challenges and opportunities can be identified?
In this presentation, we will shed some light on these different conceptualisations and discuss what they mean for school practice. We will conclude by assessing whether the paths chosen by the different linguistic regions do indeed promote sustainable, peaceful and equitable global coexistence and by identifying research gaps that should be addressed in the future.
For the first part of our paper, the conceptual and theoretical analysis of the concepts of child rights education and human rights education, we will draw upon existing literature and international, regional and national policy documents. We analyse some key elements of each concept, including intended learning outcomes, contents, methods, and the role of the learning environment. For the second part, the content analysis of the three Swiss curricula, we will present the results of a keyword-based content analysis of all three curricula to better understand how human rights education and children’s rights education are conceptualised. This research consists in analysing excerpts of the curricula that contain certain pre-determined keywords such as „rights“, „political“, etc. In this part we focus on the contents as well as on the way the different concepts are integrated into the subject-based curricula (inter- and transdisciplinarity, school environment, etc.) We will also draw on previous research done on human rights education and children’s rights education in Switzerland (Kirchschläger et al, 2015; Louviot et al., in press; Rinaldi, 2017; 2018) and elsewhere (IHRC, 2011; Müller, 2009; Struthers, 2015; Waldron et al, 2011), so as to better understand and contextualise our findings. Primary sources: - CIIP, Conférence intercantonale de l'instruction publique de la Suisse romande et du Tessin. (2010). Plan d'études romand. http://www.plandetudes.ch. - CIIP, Conferenza intercantonale dell'istruzione pubblica della Svizzera romanda e del Ticino. Piano di studio. https://scuolalab.edu.ti.ch/piazza/pds - Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)7, Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (11. Mai 2010). - D-EDK [German-speaking chapter of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education] (2014). Curriculum 21 [Lehrplan 21]. Lucerne: D-EDK. http://www.lehprlan21.ch. - G.A. Res. 59/113, World Programme for Human Rights Education, U.N. Doc. A/59/113 (10 December 2004). - UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (adopted 20 November 1989, entered into force 2 September 199) 1577 UNTS 3. - UN (2011). UN Declaration on human rights education and training. UN Doc. A/RES/66/137.
We intend to clarify the understandings of the different but related concepts of children’s rights education and human rights education both internationally and in Switzerland. Earlier research has shown that while the theoretical underpinnings of these recent educational concepts have become clearer, the relationships between them still require theoretical deliberations. We will also show how these concepts are integrated into intended curricula in Switzerland. Swiss representatives have mentioned on several occasions that the newly adopted curricula do meet the threshold for human rights education and children’s rights education such as required in international documents. Nevertheless, scholars and practitioners have argued that this is not the case. We will also identify opportunities and challenges of inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to Children’s rights education, as promoted in the Swiss curricula. Lastly, we shall identify topics for future research that can help to still better understand how Children’s rights education can be meaningfully integrated into formal school curricula.
-Brantefors, L., Quennerstedt, A. & Tarman, B. (2016). “Teaching and learning children’s human rights: A research synthesis”. Cogent Education 3(1). -IHRC, Irish Human Rights Commission (2011). Human Rights Education in Ireland: an Overview. Dublin: Irish Human Rights Commission. -Kirchschlaeger, P. G., Kirchschlaeger, T., & Suter, C (2015). “Étude sur l’éducation scolaire en matière de droits de l’homme en Suisse, en particulier sur le plan d’études romand”, Study of the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights. Berne: SKMR. -Louviot, M., Moody, Z. & Darbellay, F. (in press) “Children’s rights education: the challenges and opportunities of inter- and transdisciplinarity teaching”. -Moody Z. & Darbellay, F., (2018). “Studying childhood, children, and their rights: the challenge of Interdisciplinarity”, Childhood. 10.1177/0907568218798016 (online first). -Müller, L. (2009) Human rights education in German schools and post-secondary institutions: Results of a study. In Human Rights Education Associates (Series Ed.), Research in human rights education papers: Vol. 2: Human Rights Education Associates. -Potvin, M., & Benny, J.-A. (2013). Children's rights education in Canada. A particular look at the Quebec school system. Toronto: Unicef Canada. -Quennerstedt, A., “Education and Children’s Rights” (2015). In W. Vandenhole, E. Desmet, D. Reynaert and S. Lembrechts (eds.), Routledge International Handbook of Children’s Rights Studies. London/New York: Routledge. -Rinaldi, S. (2017). “Challenges for Human Rights Education in Secondary Schools from a Teacher Perspective”, Prospects (47(1-2)) 87-100. DOI: 10.1007/s11125-018-9419-z. -Rinaldi, S. (2018). Menschenrechtsbildung an Gymnasien. Verständnisse, Chancen und Herausforderungen (Human rights education in upper-secondary schools. Understandings, opportunities and challenges). Opladen/Berlin/Toronto: Budrich. -Struthers, A. (2015). Building blocks for improving human rights education within initial teacher education in Scotland. Retrieved from https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ law/research/centres/chrp/publications/building_blocks_report.pdf -Tibbitts, F. (2017). “Evolution of human rights education models”. In M. Bajaj, Human rights education: theory, research and praxis (pp. 69-95). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. -Thelander, N. (2016). Human Rights Education: teaching children’s human rights – a matter of why, what and how. In J. Gillett- Swan, & V. Coppock. (Eds). Children’s Rights, Educational Research and the UNCRC: past, present and future (pp. 61-79). Oxford: Symposium Books. -Waldron, F., Kavanagh, A.-M., Kavanagh, R., Maunsell, C., Oberman, R., O'Reilly, M., . . . Ruane, B. (2011). Teachers, human rights and human rights education: knowledge, perspectives and practices of primary school teachers in Ireland. Dublin: The Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education.
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