PCF5: Distance learning and human rights education: a contribution to development?

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by Dr Hugh Starkey

This paper reports on a systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of a human rights education programme delivered by distance learning. Respect for human rights is an essential component of as well as indicator of development. A United Nations pre- millennium briefing argued that: ‘there is now near-universal recognition that respect for human rights …is essential to the sustainable achievement of the three agreed global priorities of peace, development and democracy’.

Human rights education (HRE) can make a significant contribution to fulfilling several millennium goals.

  • The achievement of universal primary education includes human rights education as a human right under article 26.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. (goal 2)
  • HRE directly addresses gender equality (goal 3)
  • HRE can contribute to reducing prejudice against those with HIV/AIDS (goal 6)
  • HRE links individuals in developed and developing states in a global partnership (goal 8).

The University of London’s distance learning master’s programme in citizenship education, attracting students from the UK and around the world is grounded in human rights as explicit principles. Asynchronous computer-mediated conferencing (ACMC) enables student-student and student-tutor discussions linking North and South that should promote the social construction of knowledge and understandings of human rights.

Our literature review found a general lack of evidence of the achievement of these aims in such conferences. We have therefore developed new tools of analysis to study ACMC in the context of learning about children’s rights and human rights.

We report on ways in which ACMC associated with research-led teaching materials generates lively discussions and promotes commitments to and understandings of human rights and their application to education, governance, social justice and development.

Online Human Rights Training


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