The “Our Rights” project - human rights education
In a nutshell
Effective human rights education can help foster a culture of peace, tolerance, and understanding of diversity in societies, including their religious, ethnic and cultural aspects and national minorities.
Since 2005, with the Our Rights project and teaching materials, Slovenia has enabled education on children’s rights for more than 350,000 children in 26 countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
Joint and proactive engagement by states and non-governmental and international organisations in human rights education can help further advance universal values and respect for human rights.
Children in every environment must be given an opportunity to learn about human rights and be guaranteed respect for their own rights. Experience with the Our Rights project shows that different environments present both great opportunities and exhibit pressing needs in this regard. It is our belief that such projects and numerous other efforts by international organisations, NGOs and government institutions are extremely valuable. The inclusion of children into processes contributing to their empowerment can boost their healthy development and long-term engagement in strengthening peace and security.
Launch of the project in 2005
During its OSCE Chairmanship in 2005, Slovenia launched a pilot project on human rights education entitled Our Rights, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Slovenian experts designed, initiated and led the realisation of the pilot project, which involved a number of OSCE participating states, NGOs, individual experts, human rights ombudsman’s offices, local offices of international organisations and other stakeholders. The pilot project generated a great deal of interest among OSCE participating states, so the Slovenian teaching tool was translated into 17 languages. A total of 66,000 children in Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Ireland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Germany, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine engaged with the project. It also involved children from minority groups, including Roma children in several countries in South-Eastern Europe. The Expert Assessment of the OSCE Pilot Project clearly showed that in all OSCE participating states it had helped raise awareness of the significance of teaching and learning about human and children’s rights.
The project launch coincided with the launch of the World Programme for Human Rights Education, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2004 with the aim of promoting a common understanding of basic principles and methodologies of human rights education, providing a concrete framework for action and strengthening partnerships and cooperation from the international level down to the grassroots.
Continuation of the project
In Kosovo, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Ossetia-Alania (Russian Federation) the project continued independently in the 2006–2008 period. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 children participated.
With Slovenia's support, the project continued in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Ossetia-Alania in September 2009, and involved 52,000 children, namely the entire generation of 12-year-olds in Kosovo, children of all three main national communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the entire cohort of 11- and 12-year-old pupils in North Ossetia–Alania.
In 2010, the project was followed up in North Ossetia-Alania, with an additional 15,000 children included, aged from 10 to 12 years. In autumn 2010, 30 children from Gaza undergoing medical rehabilitation at the Soča University Rehabilitation Institute in Slovenia participated in the project on a trial basis. In Kosovo, the project was approved as a regular part of the school curriculum by the Ministry of Education in 2010.
Since 2012, it has been implemented primarily in the context of development cooperation projects funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 2012, it was carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldova and in three republics of the Russian Federation (North Ossetia-Alania, Chechnya and Ingushetia), where it continued in 2013 and 2014, and in Serbia.
In 2014 and 2015, the project was implemented in Jordan, and in 2015 and 2016, in Morocco and Egypt.
In 2014, the project was presented in Brazil as part of the project Future at Stake: For Human Rights, for Children, for the Future, which was jointly conceived by the EU Delegation and Brazil. The same year, the project was also presented in Argentina on the occasion of the Slovenian national football team’s away match. Also in 2014, in cooperation with UNIS (United Nations Information Service), Our Rights flashcards in German intended for instruction in Austrian schools were presented in Vienna at a teacher training seminar.
In 2015, in Georgia, the Visegrad Group, with Slovakia at the forefront and in collaboration with local partners, organised a similar project on the basis of the Our Rights materials in the Georgian language. In Gaza, the teaching material has been used since 2015 as part of the Psychosocial Programme implemented by ITF.
In cooperation with the non-governmental organisation BBA in India, which was founded by the 2014 Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, Our Rights was implemented as a pilot project for 1,000 children in New Delhi in the summer of 2016. In August 2016, it was presented to a group of children from Ukraine (more specifically, from Donbass and Luhansk) participating in the rehabilitation programme in Debeli Rtič in Slovenia in the framework of development assistance programmes implemented by ITF.
The project was re-launched in Morocco in 2017–2019. Between 2016 and 2019, its implementation continued in Kosovo and in 2019, also in Egypt and Slovenia. In 2020, the project implemented through the call for proposals for development cooperation (2018–2020) concluded for 1,056 children in Egypt and resumed again through the call for proposals in 2021–2023. The project was re-launched in Albania in 2021–2022 for around 3,000 children per year, and is continuing in 2023. The teaching materials were translated into Japanese for the first time for a pilot implementation in Japan in 2021. The launch was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the training of Japanese teachers started on 10 December 2022, World Human Rights Day. In Kosovo, the project has been ongoing since 2021, and involved 8,600 children from different areas in 2022. The project is continuing in 2023. Since 2005, 1,482 teachers at 750 schools in Kosovo have received training and 96,400 children have been empowered through the project.
In spring 2016, on the basis of the experience gained during the Our Rights project, a worksheet entitled Children-Refugees was drawn up for children in the Slovenian education system as an additional tool for raising awareness of the universal rights of child refugees under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. By providing education on the rights of the child, schools make a valuable contribution to creating an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance and inclusion of children from abroad, as nobody should be left out.