Education in, through and for human rights is based on respect for human rights and basic freedoms and the full development of human capabilities. Furthermore, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training define enabling real, non-discriminatory participation in a free society, as well as an awareness of every person’s dignity and feeling of self-worth, as the tasks and objectives of human rights education.
This results in an obligation for all stakeholders and professions in the relevant action fields. In its State Report, the German federal government refers to the ‘recommendation on human rights education in schools’ issued by the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Laender in the Federal Republic of Germany (Kultusministerkonferenz), which was pleasingly revised and updated in 2018. However, only state school laws are binding for schools. And only three of them explicitly refer to children’s and human rights in the law. Additionally, some of these – contrary to the universality of human rights – use restrictive wording in relation to love of one’s homeland, and to Christian and humanist ideas and values. This warrants criticism in view of the government’s neutrality obligation and ban on discrimination.
Human rights education requires expertise, yet the facilities for training and continued education at universities and among private institutions or independent sponsors explicitly geared around the aforementioned tasks and objectives continue to be limited at both federal and state level. For instance, there are only a few select areas or job profiles encompassing human rights education explicitly. Also scientific research and analysis of issues relating to children’s and human rights in the education system have not been appropriately developed either.
Other key tasks include raising awareness about diversity, and eliminating discrimination in everyday education. This must take into account public communication and education materials, as well as curricula, quality standards or guidelines. All dimensions of discrimination must be considered here, including intersectional overlaps.
- The National Coalition Germany recommends that the UN Committee call on the German federal government to
- 117. Recommend that the states explicitly incorporate human rights education into school laws as an education target, and ensure all children and adolescents know their rights;
- 118. Implement the joint recommendation by the German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz) and the Kultusministerkonferenz on teacher training for diverse schools (2015);
- 119. Ensure skills-building in human rights education and research, and ensure the laws and standards of the individual areas of education at state level explicitly establish bans on discrimination, raise awareness about diversity, and provide clear regulations on making educational interactions respectful and participative.