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Rights-Based Learning Environment: The Missing Piece in Ethiopia’s Patchwork of a Human Rights Education Regime

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An assessment of laws, policies, and institutions; empirical data on the practice and effects of human rights education; and interviews conducted with education and human rights practitioners in addition to government lawyers reveals that human rights education in Ethiopia suffers from two major problems. First, the legal/policy framework is haphazard and lacks intentionality. As a result the policy and practice can have pockets of excellence or mediocrity based on a number of arbitrary reasons. Second, while the system and practice reasonably address teaching and learning processes, and the education and professional development of teachers/educators it is extremely deficient in providing for a human rights-based learning environment. A rights-based learning environment is not foreign to the system as the notion is reflected in the country’s policy papers and curricula albeit with major defects. However, in practice, the implementation of rights-based education has major limitations that can make the entire human rights education project problematic. The weakest point in the system lies in that it does not set up an environment in which students can participate in the protection of their rights in addition to the fact that violations of human rights against students and teachers are routinely ignored or too many a time perpetrated by state actors. The involvement of educators, civil servants, law enforcement officials and the military in human rights violations will also adversely affect the human rights education of victims and violators alike. As a result, students at both the lower and university levels of education exhibit a general sense of disengagement and cynicism about the protection of human rights. However, the way students and citizens articulate their protest against state violations is indicative of how human rights education is working regardless of its deficiencies.
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Keywords: Ethiopia; Human Rights education; National Human Rights Action Plan; education and training policy; rights-based learning environment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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  • Political Crossroads is a bi-annual, international, refereed journal which, since 1990, publishes critical and empirical scholarship in political science and international relations. Its areas of focus include global security, terrorism, national identity, migration and citizenship, and the politics of resources and trade.
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