Maghreb human rights groups propose education reform
By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Rabat – 18/04/12
An overhaul of human rights education is required in the wake of the Arab Spring, activists from the Maghreb and Arab world said at a recent Rabat forum.
Human rights education was a factor in the outbreak of the revolutions, said Taieb Baccouche of Tunis-based Arab Institute for Human Rights (IADH), which co-hosted the April 5th-7th conference with Morocco's National Human Rights Council (CNDH).
"As Arab countries experience revolutions and activism, and relative expansion in the margin of freedom, a new methodology befitting the new conditions is required," Baccouche told Magharebia.
Advancement in human rights improves the "margin of freedom" allowed to those who teach it, the IADH president said.
Moroccan National Human Rights Council (CNDH) President Driss El Yazami joined his Tunisian colleague in calling for an overhaul of both methodology and curricula.
"Despite efforts exerted in the field of human rights education, whether by the State or civil society, it has become necessary to update the mechanism of human rights education in our region," El Yazami said.
This will enhance the gains of the Arab Spring "and keep pace with new needs towards the consolidation of democracy and respect for human rights," the CNDH chief added.
Human rights education must adapt to the changes in the Arab street, agreed Tunisian human rights activist Lamia Karar.
"The new political and social reality requires finding new tools and strategies in dealing with human rights education in the region," she told Magharebia.
Pointing to the "large number of civil society organisations in Maghreb countries", Karar called for improved "co-ordination at the local, regional and international level".
"We need now to unite efforts in order for human rights education to become a reality among the people, not to remain exclusive to the elite," Karar said. "It should become a means to achieve change in society."
Even after more than ten years of personal observation, the head of Moroccan human rights organisation "Instance-MDH" said that it was difficult to measure the effectiveness of human rights education.
But if it is made part of the activism across the region, "new perspectives" will be created, Mohamed Nouhi said.
Human rights organisations will then be able to "prepare our children to believe in the values of human rights, especially those calling for peace, solidarity and tolerance", Nouhi added.
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