Newsletter on Human Rights Education
and Education for Democracy

Year 1, issue 5 (28 June 2004)
Published by the DARE network
for its members and contacts

Table of content

1. Message from the chair
2. A learning experience with adults
3. Multicultural perspectives on professional key terms
4. Spreading the message about rights
5. Ice-breakers, part 1
6. Needs and views of Belgian Flemish teachers re human rights education
7. Interesting information and links
8. Networking
9. Announcements


1. Message from the chair

Dear friends and colleagues,

Our meeting in Budapest during the last days of April has been successful with regard to the topic of ICT in Human Rights Education and Education for Democratic Citizenship but also has been a step forward in creating a DARE-community. We had the opportunity to welcome 30 old friends and new representatives of our member organisations. We shared experiences and questions and profited from the competencies of our professionals in ICT. The preparatory group had organized a representative and practice orientated set of learning opportunities and invited excellent experts. We thank our Hungarian hosting organisation Youth for Rural Areas for all their efforts to arrange a smooth and efficient meeting.

Following the seminar the second General Assembly of DARE took place. We are confident to follow our quite ambitious work plan for the next year which offers new training possibilities for all members, but hopefully also the chance to grow together in a sustainable way. DARE depends on the contributions and active participation of each member.

We would like to draw your attention once more to the coming European Year of Citizenship through Education 2005 (EYCE) in 2005 which will be a chance for all of you to become more visible, on European and national level. Please, have a look in the last e-DARE, where you can find aims and objectives of EYCE. We remind you to address the national representatives for the Year and to get in touch with the national EDC coordinator to find out and to discuss with them what kind of activity you may contribute and which ways of support exist and you may expect. We encourage you to try to become formally part of the planning. You know that DARE plans a conference in autumn 2005 as a common activity. Another idea is to ask al member organisations to submit relevant details of relevant activities for 2005, so that these could be collected into a publication.
A first important step has been the statement of DARE about the involvement of NGOs in the European Year of Citizenship through Education.

Wishing you a good time and energies for your activities

Hannelore Chiout, chair, chiout@adbildungsstaetten.de, AdB


2. A learning experience with adults

I would like to share with you an experience in the field of HRE with adults. Some years ago I was organising a two-day course for people working in centres for asylum seekers. It was at the time when there were so many refugees from Kossovo. I invited two experts on the Kossovo situation, one from the Swiss Federal Office for Refugees (BFF), the other one from the most important Swiss NGO in the field of refugees, the Schweizerische Flüchtlingshilfe (SFH). I asked them both to arrange a half-day educational session on the same subject - the human rights situation in Kossovo
1997-98 and Swiss policy on asylum for refugees from Kossovo within the same period.

My special arrangement was to divide the group of participants into two halves. Each of these two sub-groups met only one of the experts and worked with her/him for three or four hours. Then the experts withdrew; and each group was required to prepare a presentation for the other group as to what they had learnt from the respective experts. This preparation took another couple of hours. On the second day the two groups presented their knowledge and images about the Kosovo situation and the related refugee policy. These presentations turned quickly into a very emotional affair. Most participants identified themselves with the positions they had become familiar with - and a serious dispute between the two groups developed. Some people got quite angry!

We finished the two-day-session with an intense period of reflection. The participants had experienced vividly how so called “facts” are woven into different world-views and political positions, and how quickly an emotional identification with a group-related
world-view happens and leads to a polarisation between groups.

Alex Sutter, Menschenrechte Schweiz, info@humanrights.ch


3. Multicultural perspectives on professional key terms

It would be very tempting to jump into philosophical debate around cultural differences amongst participants at the Council of Europe seminar “Authentic assessment of student civic competences”, held in Dimbovita county 12th-17th April 2004 (See the complete report here). I shall try however to concentrate on some concrete examples arising from daily activities.

One of the first tasks was to outline the profile of a “good” citizen within a democracy. The term “good” provoked a hot dispute between Westerners (especially the Irish teachers) and Romanians. The former felt that “good” encompasses a value judgement that can become a quite inappropriate label for a certain group within a very diverse community. At the same time, it presupposes the opposite type of citizen: ”bad”. Who is entitled to say that this citizen is good or that another is bad? Based on what criteria? And what would be the consequences of such a shift for a sustainable democracy? In our opinion, “good” stands for efficient, ideal or active. Therefore the participatory dimension of civic profile is fully represented. Still we dare to use “good” because we qualify all these traits as desirable, good in sense of democratic. And we obviously use “bad” being aware of the responsibility this implies. Maybe because we regard responsibility as the bedrock of democratic conduct.

At this point I should that I'd like DARE colleagues to participate in a discussion based on Joseph Kahne’s view of types of citizens (personally responsible, participatory, and justice-orientated).

The second challenging aspect I want to emphasise is the role of the diary we filled in during the seminar. Many Romanian teachers were very happy to use the diary according to the course agenda - whereas some foreign colleagues did not feel comfortable reflecting on the issues we suggested precisely at the times we allocated for that purpose. The idea of using a diary for professional reflection is well-known and widely acknowledged amongst educationalists, but in Romania it comes to life mainly during various training courses or special international projects. We are trying to turn it into a habit because we strongly believe that the diary encourages analytical skills which are crucial for an efficient teaching-learning enterprise in general, not to mention civic education. On the one hand, people belonging to a writing-centered culture and familiar with sharing their professional experience (including reflection) with their peers do not need to learn how to use a professional diary. Some of them felt uncomfortable writing in the diary when I asked them to do so, because they were used to doing it whenever they wished. On the other hand, our fellow citizens feel that reflective skills can increase their professionalism and try to make best use of an opportunity for guided reflection, even though they do not fulfil the task as well as foreign teachers. They regarded the diary exercise as a pure learning and professional development opportunity. The entries were content and time-connected with each day's activities:

  • Which features of my EDC/HRE work make it European or transnational?
  • How could I do to raise my civic profile? and How could I do to improve my fellow citizens’ profile?
  • What (in terms of information, data, theories, concepts, inspiration, etc.) do I use to design the assessment?
  • How does a focus on assessment affect students' learning?
  • Recall a recent professional development programme you have attended. What were its major benefits? What did you learn about yourself?

Corina Leca, CRED, corinaleca222@hotmail.com


4. Spreading the message about rights

Schools in Wales recently participated in Right On 2003-04, a competition to promote human rights. Following introductory classroom sessions, students aged 11-16 were asked to publicise rights in their school environment, using any methods they chose. The competition was organised by CEWC-Cymru (Council for Education in World Citizenship-Wales) and sponsored by the Wales Public Law and Human Rights Association.

The winning students, from Coedcae School (Llanelli, west Wales), used a symbolic bracelet called a ‘Peace Mala’ to educate their peers about religious diversity and respect for other culture. Second prize went to Bedwas High School (Caerphilly, south Wales) for organising a number of projects which encouraged young people to use their right to voice their opinions; while Gwernyfed High School (Brecon, mid Wales) won third prize for its establishment of an Amnesty International letter-writing group and human rights notice-board.

The competition was followed by a Right On Conference, which took place at the University of Wales, Swansea in May. This gave the prize-winners an opportunity to showcase their work, as well as providing more opportunities to learn about human rights. Interactive workshops were contributed by the Electoral Commission (focusing on the right to vote), the University’s Department of Law (the right to medical care) and the Wales office of Amnesty International (the right to life).

For more information about CEWC-Cymru’s work, please visit www.cewc-cymru.org.uk. To find out about the Peace Mala project, visit www.peacemala.org.uk.

Martin Pollard, CEWC-Cymru, martinpollard@wcia.org.uk
(CEWC-Cymru is a constituent body within the Welsh Centre of International Affairs, which is a DARE member).


5. Ice-breakers, part 1

We begin here a series of examples of interactive activities and icebreakers for getting to know participants at international gatherings. The following activities for introducing people of different nationalities to each other have been used at various DARE seminars.

Activity 1: Saying good morning in the native language
  1. Get the participants in a circle
  2. Get them to go around and introduce themselves by saying good morning or good day in their own language. But not saying where they come from.
  3. When all have said good morning or good day to each other, get them back in a circle.
  4. The leader after introducing him/herself picks out one person by saying good morning to that person in the latter's native language - for example "dobre dan" in Serbo-Croat.
  5. That person then stands in the middle of the circle and tells the circle where they come from, what organisation they represent, what they do, what their expectations are, how they can contribute and so forth
  6. The person then goes to another person from whose greeting they remember from earlier - e.g. "god dag" in Norwegian, and gets that person to introduce him/herself.
  7. This activity takes about one minute per participant

This activity can be done also with the Council of Europe language stickers described in activity 3.

Activity 2: Your neighbour talks about you
  1. Participants sitting in a row or in a circle are asked to turn to their neighbour and each takes five minutes to talk about themselves.

  2. In the plenary the neighbour sums up their impression and facts about the other.

Activity 3: Language awareness activity

  1. In connection with the European Year of Languages in 2001, the Council of Europe made a set of two sheets consisting of 45 small detachable stickers. One says “Good morning” in 45 European languages, and the other says “Talk to me”.
  2. Groups of 3-5 participants are asked to group these together according to country of origin or according to language groups.
  3. Results are compared
John Christian Christiansen, Norwegian Board of Education, John.Christian.Christiansen@ls.no


6. Needs and views of Belgian Flemish teachers re human rights education

In the process of preparing a five-year plan for our HRE NGO, we wanted a clearer idea of the needs and insights of Belgian Flemish teachers as to human rights education in secondary schools. We therefore carried out a limited inquiry vis-à-vis the target group - using a questionnaire sent to teachers, almost exclusively those subscribed to our e-mail monthly newsletter. We are aware that our approach doesn’t amount to a scientifically based poll, but it does allow us to get an idea of teachers' opinions and needs.

Those who returned the questionnaire were representative of the four existing school networks, comprehensive schools as well as vocational schools, and a broad range of subjects. Female teachers, and the age category of 40+, were slightly over-represented.

Asked about the biggest obstacles to human rights education, the lack of teaching time and of time in the classroom was an almost unanimous response. In the second place, teachers referred to their lack of skills in using active methods suited for this purpose, and the fact that some subjects do not lend themselves easily to integrating HRE. It is notable that negative attitudes on the part of school principals or school boards towards HRE are not seen as an obstacle of real importance. Nor do teachers consider lack of interest from pupils as a significant obstacle.

What do teachers and schools lack in order to carry out HRE?
Here the answers were more divergent, but the average scores did not show great differences. ‘Examples of how other teachers practise HRE’ scored the highest. Others featuring included ‘suggestions of how to put into practice the cross-curricular core curriculum on citizenship’ (which contains HR issues), ‘in-service training on working methods for HRE’, ‘opportunities to exchange experiences with other teachers’, scenarios for project days, in-service training on HR (content), a manual for cross-curricular work on citizenship. Also mentioned was the lack of availability of people or NGOs for conducting workshops with their pupils. Categories returning the lowest scores were:
Asked about which approaches they would advocate for HRE in their classes and schools, the almost unanimous first choices were ‘providing, within the school, equal opportunities for all disadvantaged social groups’ and ‘ensuring active pupil participation’. Other choices, with those scoring higher first, included: a long term project, a series of lessons, a project day, doing creative work with a HR content, working with an interactive exhibition. Lowest scores were accorded to: philosophy with children, working with song lyrics, fund-raising activities, working with poetry and literature.

Asked which forms of support for HRE in the formal education system they value most, respondents offered support for all options - but most strongly for training seminars with a duration of more than one day. Other options supported, in decreasing order of popularity: suggestions for working on human rights issues, providing educational resources, publication of examples of good practice, on-line information on human rights, examples of good practice examples in working with the citizenship curriculum, an e-mail newsletter, an exhibition pack, guidance to local school projects, conducting workshops with pupils, organising teacher meetings where experiences can be exchanged.

Wim Taelman, VORMEN vzw (Belgian Flemish Organisation for Human Rights Education), wim.taelman@vormen.org

7. Interesting information and links

a) Results of research on citizenship education by the National Foundation for Educational Research

b) Some resources about lobbying by NGO’s

Wim Taelman, VORMEN vzw (Belgian Flemish Organisation for Human Rights Education), wim.taelman@vormen.org


8. Networking

As DARE is a network, it is by definition an opportunity for member institutions to 'network' with other members. On top of that, DARE members also develop formal or informal networks with other ‘players’. The following short text on networking was prepared, in transparency format, with a view to a workshop on this issue. It is compiled and adapted from various web sources.

a. Networking: definition

A process of continuous dialogue and consultation for the purpose of sharing resources to achieve the best outcomes.”
(Sala Tupou & Rufina Latu, www.spc.int)

A process of informal exchange, and creating channels to gather information, build support and get things done.
(Gold & Harder, www.ncddr.org)

b. Networking - Why?

The ultimate goals of networking:

c. A ‘Ten Commandments’ of networking!

Wim Taelman, VORMEN vzw (Belgian Flemish Organisation for Human Rights Education), wim.taelman@vormen.org


9. Announcements

a) HREA Distance learning course "Human Rights Monitoring"

27 September - 19 December 2004
Instructor: Dr. Krassimir Kanev (Bulgarian Helsinki Committee)

This distance learning course provides participants with practical guidance on how to monitor human rights. Participants will be introduced to the theory and methodology of human rights monitoring - developed in part through national human rights NGOs, but primarily through international organisations and NGOs such as the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT). Participants should gain theoretical and practical knowledge as to the principles and methods of human rights monitoring and on monitoring specific institutions and situations. The course addresses approaches to identifying human rights violations, information-gathering, interviewing, monitoring certain basic human rights and freedoms in the context of closed institutions, refugee camps or internally displaced persons, trial observations etc. It deals with preparation of reports, advocacy, intervention vis-à-vis international monitoring mechanisms, local authorities and other follow-up.

The course involves sixty hours of reading, on-line working groups, student-instructor interaction and assignments, and is offered over a three-month period, beginning on 27 September 2004. E-mail will be the main medium for the course, although participants will need to have periodic internet access. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. Participants will do the required reading, prepare individual and group assignments and participate actively in group discussions.

Deadline for applications: 1 September 2004

Further information and application forms can be downloaded from: http://www.hrea.org/courses/4E.html

Frank Elbers, HREA, felbers@hrea.org

b) 2nd Regional HRE Training for South East Europe
“Teaching Democratic Citizenship Skills and Values in the new European

Date: 25th to 29th October 2004
Place: Maribor, Slovenia.

The seminar is open to primary and secondary school teachers of civic
education, curriculum builders, teacher trainers, headmasters, school
inspectors and all educators in non-formal educational systems (youth
workers, NGO activists).

Overall aims of the training are:

Ten grants covering travel and accommodation costs are available to those eligible through the CoE In-Service Teacher Training Programme. For further information and application form, to be submitted to your national CoE liaison officer, please contact the CoE website

For other selected participants (youth and NGO HRE activists) EIP Slovenia
is able to cover enrolment fees and documentation costs, but not the
travel, accommodation and insurance costs. Application via this route (available
on http://www.eip-ass.si under ‘Trainings’) should be sent directly to EIP
Slovenia via e-mail: solazamir@eip-ass.si.

All information, including draft programme and application form, is also available on
http://www.eip-ass.si/izobrazevanje.htm and http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-education/markup/msg01549.html

Alenka Bregant, EIP Slovenia - School for Peace, solazamir@eip-ass.si


This newsletter is edited by DARE, Democracy and Human Rights Education in Europe vzw

Editor Wim Taelman.
DARE, c/o VORMEN vzw
Lange Gasthuisstraat 29
B-2000 Antwerp (Belgium)

Contributions for this newsletter can be sent to: wim.taelman@vormen.org

DARE correspondence address:

Hannelore CHIOUT
DARE network chairperson
Mühlendamm 3
D-10178 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: 00-49-30-400 401 17
Fax: 00-49-30-400 401 22
E-mail: chiout@adbildungsstaetten.de
Url: www.dare-network.org
DARE members can subscribe to this newsletter by sending additional e-mail addresses to wim.taelman@vormen.org
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