How to Make Human Rights Education a Reality in Your Classroom

By Phil Kitchel posted 07-20-2022 06:00 AM


By Isabel Quiñones

I distinctly remember learning about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a high school history class. I also learned about it as a Girls’ Leadership Worldwide participant through the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, the historic site that had been her home. Although I had all this information presented to me during my formal education, I never learned the details of this declaration and how it is being implemented throughout the modern world. By attending the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Learning, Training, and Practice Sessions, I gained some information and tangible resources to utilize with my students!

Firstly, what is human rights education (HRE) and why is it important? Plan of Action World Programme for Human Rights Education First Phase defines HRE as, “as education, training, and information aimed at building a universal culture of human rights. A comprehensive education in human rights not only provides knowledge about human rights and the mechanisms that protect them, but also imparts the skills needed to promote, defend, and apply human rights in daily life. Human rights education fosters the attitudes and behaviours needed to uphold human rights for all members of society.” Although we may think this is not something we may need to focus on in our community, this is relevant information that students around the world, especially in the United States, need to be exposed to from kindergarten up through higher education.

An important document like the UDHR is taught in high school or in more advanced history classes, but it is not frequently covered within the elementary and middle school setting. This is where the benefit of the World’s Largest Lesson (in partnership with UNICEF and UNESCO) resource library comes in handy! This was a resource library that I learned about by attending a recent United Nations Sustainable Development Goal training session on human rights education.

This resource library has an incredible number of lessons, videos, graphics, cartoons, worksheets, coloring pages, class/group activities, discussion questions, learning goals/objectives, and so much more! You can spend hours looking at the site and only scratch the surface of what they have to offer. You can easily embed these resources into your curriculum, and they’re organized by grade level/age level to make it more accessible to your student group.

One lesson that I found the most interesting was BE A FACT-IVIST!. This lesson is a perfect example on how to embed human rights education and a lesson on SDG 4 with a math lesson. The lesson starts with an introduction to what data is, then students learn how to handle data, and finally they learn and take action by using the data to make a change. It even includes a KWL adapted chart (what do we know, what can we infer, how does it relate to you) when looking at the education data around the world. The lesson also focuses highly on how COVID-19 impacted learning around the world.

That’s just one example of the wonderful resources this site has to offer. I plan on embedding this into my instruction this year; not only is it completely relevant to what our students are going through, but they need to know more about the world around them to become active citizens and participate in the global community. What resource will you use next?

Isabel is a third-year special education teacher in New York. She went to Manhattan College and graduated in 2020 with her bachelor's and master's degrees in Childhood/Special Education with a concentration in mathematics. During her time at Manhattan, she served as the Mu Sigma chapter of KDP's President. She has also been a part of KDP's Knowledge Development Advisory Council for the past two years. Isabel is very passionate about educational equity, which has led her to be a Designated Representative for the United Nations NGO Kappa Delta Pi. She is also an avid crafter!

1 comment



08-01-2022 09:24 AM

Awesome Article