Bringing Human Rights Education to High Schools

27.06.2016 / 13:09 / Campaigns

Between June 14th and June 23rd, 2016, the Equality and Human Rights Action Centre (ACTEDO) implemented a new project on human rights education in local high schools in Cluj-Napoca. Visited schools included: Colegiul Național Emil Racoviță, at which ACTEDO spoke with two 9th grade classes and one 11th grade class, and Liceul Teoretic Eugen Pora, at which ACTEDO spoke with one 9th grade class. By the conclusion of the program, ACTEDO met with approximately 100 students in total. This is only the beginning of ACTEDO’s outreach. Once school reconvenes in September, ACTEDO hopes to continue engagement with local high schools on human rights education.

group

Purpose 

Aware of the many problems Romania faces in terms of protection and enforcement of human rights – the country ranks lowest in the EU in terms of gender equality[1], 40% of its population is at risk of poverty and social exclusion[2], anti-LGBTI sentiments are strong, as proven by the recent actions of the Coalition for the Family[3] – Alexandra Columban, Associate member of ACTEDO, and Kassie Scott, summer 2016 intern at ACTEDO, met with students to discuss the following topics:

                           Gender Equality     Feminism     Sex vs. Gender     Gender Roles     Vulnerable Groups                                                     Prejudice     Discrimination     Poverty     Roma     LGBTI     Disabilities     HIV/AIDS      Social Class                           Nationality     Religion     Race     Racism     Sexism     Threat          Intersectionality     Social Construct     Glass Ceiling     Inequality     Privilege

Activities 

11th grade class. Kassie Scott delivered a presentation on feminism and gender equality, with specific attention given to the current state of gender relations in Romania. A review of the most recent statistics on gender inequality and gender-based violence in Romania revealed that 20160614_113819Romania has yet to achieve gender equality and has much progress to make. In addition to dispelling common myths about feminism, ACTEDO introduced students to feminist goals and gender relations in more progressive countries, with the aim to improve gender relations in Romania.

9th grade class. After breaking into groups, students began by organizing a list of adjectives into either “feminine” and “masculine” categories or positive and negative categories, according to societal norms and perceptions. After each group presented their classification and a consensus was reached, the correlation between feminine and negative words, masculine and positive words, became clear. The activity transitioned smoothly into a discussion about gender roles and stereotypes. Together, students devised a definition for stereotypes and gave examples of stereotypes. ACTEDO then called students’ attention to vulnerable groups, including race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, Roma, people with disabilities, LGBTQI, people with HIV/AIDS. Students, guided by ACTEDO, mapped the connection between stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, complete with definitions and examples of each.  ACTEDO concluded the presentation on a positive note by brainstorming with students potential strategies to combat stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.

Recommendations 

Based on the discussions and interactions ACTEDO had with 20160623_122150local high schools in Cluj-Napoca, ACTEDO recommends:

  • Incorporation of human rights education in schools, in Civic Education classes or separate Human Rights modules, to provide students with a basic framework. The implementation of human rights education could take the form of: a review of current events as they relate to human rights violations and atrocities; an examination, using a human rights lens, of the unfair treatment of vulnerable groups in Romania; presentation of Romanian and European human rights legislation.

 

  • An increase in diversity, specifically interaction with members of vulnerable groups, to better prepare students for global engagement and to promote an understanding of the experiences of individuals from dissimilar backgrounds.

Final Remarks  

ACTEDO advocates for compulsory human rights education in schools: this is the ideal to which we aspire. Until this ideal is realized, ACTEDO welcomes future opportunities to engage with local students and opportunities to collaborate with local teachers to incorporate human rights education into the curriculum.

Acknowledgements 

ACTEDO would like to thank Colegiul Național Emil Racoviță and Liceul Teoretic Eugen Pora, the teachers for their cooperation and the students for their willingness to discuss difficult topics and challenge false beliefs, with the hope to promote an atmosphere in which all human beings are treated with dignity and respect.

You can see more pictures from the activities here.

Kassie Scott

References:

[1] According to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Romania ranks last in the European Union on the Gender Inequality Index, available at http://eige.europa.eu/gender-statistics/gender-equality-index/2012/RO

[2] According to Eurostat, in 2014, around 40% of people living in Romania were at risk of poverty and social exclusion, available at http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Europe_2020_indicators_-_poverty_and_social_exclusion

[3] See the recent mobilization against an already marginalized group, the LGBTI community, with 3 million signatures for the amendment of the Constitution, available at http://www.acceptromania.ro/blog/2016/05/23/trei-milioane-de-romani-mobilizati-de-ura-fata-de-persoane-lgbt/