On December 1 and 2, 2017, the Central European University in Budapest hosted a symposium about the current state and challenges of human rights education in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania in an international perspective. The participants comprised experts from the NGO sector, national institutes of education, as well as high school or undergraduate university students.
This was the key event of the Education for a Europe of Rights (EER) project, which entailed a partnership between the Allianz Cultural Foundation, CEU Human RightS Initiative, Human Rights Olympics in Slovakia and the UNESCO Chair for HRE at the Comenius University.
The panels and other innovative formats highlighted the difference between the official policies of human rights education (strategies, recommendations, international legally binding and non-binding documents) and the practice (oth from the expert perspective of the NGO representatives, who often replace deficient state institutions and actors in human rights education, and the students, who "live" with human rights education or at least would like to, even though they lack the suitable environment for it at their schools). The discussions identified recommendations for improvements and offered the students certain tools, with which they can engage in non-formal peer-to-peer education and help their colleagues understand and practice human rights.
The final program and slides of some experts are available at the webpage of the ACF (section "Education for a Europe of Rights"). Other outputs are in development for publication in 2018. Photos can be viewed through the Facebook page of the UNESCO Chair.
On April 6-7, 2017, an international seminar took place within the final round of another successful Human Rights Olympics in Modra-Harmónia. The seminar was co-organized by the project 'Education for a Europe or Rights', supported by the Allianz Cultural Foundation, the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights Education and the Human Rights Olympics.
Nine students from Czechia, Hungary and Romania together with three project coordinators strengthened the international dimension of the Olympics and had active discussions about the contributions and challenges entailed in diversity in Europe, as well as about the experiences with education for human rights and democracy in their countries. The final program of the seminar is available here, the program of the final round of the HRO here.
The UNESCO Chair also co-guaranteed one of the topics of the reflections, the title of which mirrored the one of the international seminar. The awards for the best reflections went to Samuel Harvan, Katarína Šarníková and Andrea Orešanská, a certificate of recognition was awarded to Jakub Séleš. Congratulations to the best authors and thank you to all participants and partners for the fruitful cooperation.
On April 19, 2017, we facilitated a discussion on the meaning of democracy and human rights for the lives of individuals and societies at the Secondary Grammar School of M. R. Štefánik in Šamorín. In the course of the discussion, the students highlighted the difference between the characteristics of an ideal democracy in theory and the elements of contemporary democracies not only in Slovakia.
We briefly introduced the historical development towards democracy, the dilemmas that democratic governments face, as well as the mechanism of elections and opportunities for citizen participation in democratic decision making. Similarly, we explained how the principles of human rights become an inseparable component of democracy and how they together form the conditions for well-being of all of us.
We are grateful for the invitation and look forward to the next discussions not only on secondary schools.
The UNESCO Chair for HRE at Comenius University is one of the key long-term partners of the Human Rights Olympics.
Brochure, English translation from page 21 (as of 2012, published by the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic)
The regional rounds of the Human Rights Olympics took place on 8 February 2017. The UNESCO Chair was represented in the Trnava region, where we met several talented people, who understand the importance of human rights and democracy in contemporary societies. A photo gallery is available here. We look forward to the final round, especially to reading the essays of the participants on the topic Diversity: Europe's Strength or Weakness? that we co-guarantee.
In cooperation with Sharing Perspective Foundation the UNESCO Chair for HRE at Comenius University has coordinated the course EUROPEAN REFUGE(ES) in the summer term of the 2016/17 academic year.
EUROPEAN REFUGE(ES) IS OUR NEW VIRTUAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMME TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN THE SPRING SEMESTER OF 2017. THE AIM OF THIS PROGRAMME IS TO BRING TOGETHER REFUGEE AND EUROPEAN YOUTH ACROSS EUROPE TO DISCUSS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A EUROPEAN CITIZEN. JOINTLY THEY WILL DEVELOP A COUNTER NARRATIVE TO COMBAT STIGMATISATION AND FOSTER MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING.
In this programme we would like to connect refugees and students directly as personal encounters lead to the development of genuine relationships. We do not want to objectify this population by studying ‘about’ them; rather we wish to have them speak for themselves encouraging them to take ownership over the counternarrative through intercultural dialogue.
During ten weeks 250 participants (refugee youth and graduate students) across 12-15 European countries follow webinars from expert academics and practitioners in the field. The participants meet weekly in small groups in our tailored virtual classroom to explore their perspectives on the refugee crisis and what it means to be a European citizen. All participants jointly conduct a European-wide research into youth perceptions on these issues across different national and socioeconomic boundaries. The programme culminates in a summit held in Brussels for the best performing participants who will interact with EU officials and present their findings.
A discussion of high school and university students on the topic "The Meaning of Europe in 2016" took place on 14 October 2016 from 10.00 to 11.45 in room No. N417 (Comenius University in Bratislava, new building, entrance from Múzejná 2).
A group of students from bilingual gymnasium in Freiburg/Fribourg, Switzerland participated at the discussion
More information can be found here.
Photo © Viliam Figusch.