The Ukraine-wide conference “Development of Education in the Field of Human Rights in Schools of Ukraine” was held in Kyiv on January 23.
The conference presented the interim results of the research of implementation of human rights education in general secondary schools in Ukraine. In particular, the presentation of Ukrainian and international experience of organization of the educational space in secondary schools based on the human rights principles (A School is Human Rights Space). Also, recommendations on the formation of an integrated approach and implementation of quality human rights education in the formal education system based on the principles of the UN World Programme for Human Rights Education and the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education were developed.
On behalf of the state, Aksana Filipishyna, a representative of the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Yurii Kononenko, Director of the Primary and Secondary Education Department of the Ministry of Education of Ukraine, Natalia Stupnytska, Head of the Rule of Law and Human Rights Department of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, and Tetiana Remekh, Head of the Social Science Education Department of the Institute of Pedagogics of NAPS of Ukraine, attended the conference. The civil sector was represented by a number of organizations, including the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, NGO “MART”, “Almenda”, Educational Human Rights House – Chernihiv, Amnesty International Ukraine, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, “East –SOS”, “Parents – SOS”, experts of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Global Education Center “Mondo” (Estonia) and the UHHRU Human Rights in School project. Also, the conference was attended by representatives of educational institutions – members of national project “A School is Human Rights Space”, teachers and journalists.
Aksana Filipishyna, a representative of the Commissioner for children’s rights, non-discrimination, and gender equality, presented the process and the main problems of implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy concerning formal education. She stressed the need for cooperation with the Office of the Commissioner with the Ministry of Education and non-governmental human rights organizations for systematic implementation of changes in the education system.
A lot of attention was paid to the implementation of international commitments regarding human rights education. Sviatoslav Ratushniak, an expert of the Ukraine-wide educational program “We Understand Human Rights”, and Natalia Betsa, a national specialist on projects in the field of the rule of law and human rights of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, presented their vision.
Also, research results of the Human Rights in School project on educational standards and training programs were presented at the conference. Volodymyr Selivanenko, a coordinator of educational programs at Amnesty International Ukraine, joined the topic. He stressed the need to conduct an anti-discrimination examination of programs and standards.
An important part of the event was a discussion on the content of textbooks as a tool to implement human rights education. Larysa Seredniak, an expert of the Human Rights in School Project, and Tetiana Remekh, Head of the Social Science Education Department of the Institute of Pedagogics of NAPS of Ukraine, presented their views on the matter.
A lively interest of participants was paid to the discussion on the organization of educational space in accordance with international standards and human rights principles. During this session, the interim results of monitoring of human rights in educational institutions were presented. The Ukrainian educational project “A School is human rights space” was presented as a model of implementation of changes in human rights education. Serhii Burov and the project participants presented the results. They demonstrated how the project affects the educational space of their institutions and made recommendations for future action for the implementation of a systematic approach to the implementation of education in the field of human rights.
The presentation of experience of creating and saving atmosphere of mutual respect and mutual support at schools as components of human rights education was also interesting. Pavel Alonov, an Estonian colleague and teacher of History and Law in the Tallinn Pae Gymnasium, shared his experience in this field.
The third session of the conference was dedicated to the education of teachers in the field of human rights education. Iryna Kostiuk, an expert of the Human Rights in School Project, methodologist of the office of education development of the Lviv Oblast Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education, and Svitlana Mykytiuk, PhD of Pedagogical sSciences, assistant professor of social and legal disciplines and educational management at H. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, presented the challenges of professional readiness that teachers face, when implementing human rights education. There were questions of training and retraining of teachers in the field of human rights education at pedagogical universities and institutes of postgraduate education.
Oleksandr Voitenko, an expert of the Ukraine-wide educational program “We Understand Human Rights” and member of the jury of the contest of teaching developments, introduced the challenges that a teacher face in teaching human rights in a modern Ukrainian school. Typical problems were found during the inspection of the developments sent to the abovementioned contest.
As a result of the conference, creating a single platform for international cooperation, public institutions, and NGOs for the introduction of more efficient, effective and systemic changes in education in the field of human rights in Ukraine, and the implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy were proposed.
The conference was organized within the Human Rights First project, supported by Global Affairs Canada, implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union as a part of the national educational program “We Understand Human Rights” with the support of the Ukraininan Parliament Commissioner for human rights.