The Strength of Human Rights Education
The violations of human rights have always been the fate of a majority of Pakistanis. Although such violations are exposed at a larger scale by the print and electronic media, yet there is no let-up in them. Today, a little development to protect and promote the rights of Pakistanis is undoubtedly indebted to the vibrant media of Pakistan. But this is certainly not enough, as hundreds of thousands of people are still deprived of their fundamental rights in this country. Dozens of international and local NGOs, a separate Human Rights Ministry and so many other institutions working for people’s rights, seem to have failed when misery and hardships of the downtrodden lot remain the same. We still see hundreds of little kids working in hazardous conditions rather than going to schools. We still have our government hospitals over filled with no adequate facilities of free medical care. A large number of people are without shelter and our educated youth, after going through intense unemployment trauma, find no choice except to waste their lives doing odd jobs abroad. Human rights violations are inevitable until the time our society as a whole decides to fight against it.
In this regard, providing education to our youth on their human rights guaranteed to them by the constitution of Pakistan is inevitable. Human rights education teaches more than the mere definition of human rights. It promotes values, beliefs and attitudes that encourage all individuals to uphold their own rights and those of others. It develops an understanding of everyone’s common responsibility to make human rights a reality in each community. It enables a person to know about his actual legal rights, ways to safeguard those rights and teaches respect to the rights of others. Human rights education constitutes an essential contribution to the long-term prevention of human rights abuses and represents an important investment in the endeavour to achieve a just society in which all human rights of all persons are valued and respected.
Without such knowledge, a person can neither claim rights nor protect the rights of others. Female members of our society must know that they have rights of education, bodily integrity, privacy and dignity. Children should also be taught about their human rights. They must learn what kind of treatment they are entitled to and what responsibilities they have to their fellows. Human rights education should be designed considering the needs of present society. Human rights can indeed ring about positive changes.
Human rights education generally functions in a transformative way. There should be positive changes in families, institutions, job sectors, relations between employers and employees. Universal Declaration of Human Rights encompasses various facets of human rights from articles 1 to 30. It is the responsibility of human rights educators to let people know about all these facets. When a law student studies the law courses through books and other materials, (s)he understands those in a speculative manner. But when (s)he gets involved in group study and shares his/her understanding and also listens to other people’s discussion, the idea gets clearer. Human rights education from various dimensions should be promoted in this way. Practical trainings should also be included. For instance, when a law graduate engages himself/herself in court practice or pursues internships at law chambers, (s)he becomes more knowledgeable with regard to the practical areas of law.
Practical knowledge helps them delve deep into the provisions of law. Another example can be given about clinical legal education through law clinics and moot court societies. Law schools of both public and private universities now-a-days offer courses on mock trial and moot courts. These courses enable the law students to easily understand the court proceedings because they provide practical learning and training. A student becomes expert at searching for and finding out cases, art of examination and cross-examination of witnesses. Practical training being part of human rights education can play the same role. Such training should not only be confined to adults but needs to be inclusive of children also. In consequence, people will have the practice to raise questions on various issues of human rights from an early age.