July 1, 2015
The Advocates for Human Rights welcomes the new, official position statement by the National Council for Social Studies recognizing the importance of human rights education as a necessity for effective social and civic learning.
The statement, published in the May/June 2015 edition of Social Education, reflects The Advocates’ views, affirming that “Human Rights Education, in both its civil and its humanitarian aspects, is a necessary element of social studies programs and should be integrated throughout the educational experience of all learners from early childhood through advanced education and lifelong learning.”
The statement argues that “[t]oday’s students must understand fundamental principles of human rights and humanitarian law to appropriately exercise their civic responsibilities and take their places in the world at large.”
In particular, the statement emphasizes the need for human rights education as part of our social studies curriculum in this country: “Within the United States, education has long been valued as a means of fostering the growth and development of each person in order to realize the democratic ideals of freedom, equality, non-discrimination and respect for the rights of all. In an increasingly globalized world and within the United States itself, this growth and development must emphasize not only the rights and obligations arising from American citizenship but also the rights and responsibilities that arise domestically and globally from our common humanity.”
The NCSS statement goes on to say that “a fundamental understanding of universal human rights and international humanitarian law is an inheritance belonging to every child in every nation of the world and an essential resource for citizens everywhere. Therefore, it is a fundamental responsibility of educators in the United States to incorporate human rights education into their teaching, curriculum planning and program administration.”
The statement encourages all NCSS members and educators to develop and advocate for human rights education practices and programs so that all students learn to understand and value fundamental principles of human rights and to apply those principles in daily life.
The statement ends, “Social studies educators in the United States have a special opportunity and a responsibility to contribute to this growing movement by integrating the fundamental concepts of universal human rights and international humanitarian law into a nurturing and yet rigorous education that prepares students to be compassionate, aware, and effective citizens and to work together to build a more livable world.”
The Advocates encourages public officials, school districts, educators, and community organizations to publicly endorse the NCSS statement or author their own statements and policies in support of human rights education at the local level.
(Reproduced with permission)