Monday, 31 December 2012

Business and Children's Rights Principles launched in Belgium

On 3 December 2012, the Children’s Rights and Business Principles (‘Principles’) were released in Belgium. The ten Principles were jointly developed by UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children. They offer guidance to businesses with regard to their responsibility to respect and support the rights of children. Their global premiere took place in London on 12 March 2012. Step forward The Principles are an important step forward in the area of business and human rights. For the first time, an initiative with regard to corporate social responsibility focuses solely on the rights of the child. Furthermore, in the past the focus has mainly been put on combating child labour and improving the conditions for working children. The Principles on the other hand relate to the overall impact businesses have or can have on the rights of children, not only within the corporation but as members of the wider community. Moreover, they do not only relate to the fact that corporations have a responsibility to respect children’s rights: one of the main ideas of the Principles is that businesses should also actively support the rights of the child. It is important that also the private sector is seen as an actor that can contribute to the implementation of the rights of the child. But: business as usual... The main weakness of the Principles, however, is the lack of an enforcement mechanism. Neither a reporting obligation to an international organisation nor penalties are included. Businesses are therefore expected to voluntarily commit to and respect these Principles. At the launch of the Principles in Belgium, for instance, approximately 70 businesses committed to implementing the Principles, not only within Belgium but also in their foreign branches. States With the traditional human rights in mind, the primary responsibility for the implementation of the rights of the child remains of course with governments. Governments can therefore play a role in implementing these Principles by regulating corporations and by developing the necessary national legislation. The role of States is currently being elaborated by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that is in the process of developing a General Comment on Child Rights and the Business Sector. This General Comment will offer States Parties guidance with regard to implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding the business sector. In 2012, increasing attention was given to the issue of business and children’s rights. Different actors are made aware of their responsibility towards the rights of the child with regard to the business sector. The initiatives that have been taken are an important step forward since the Institute for Human Rights and Business has placed “putting children squarely on the business agenda” on the third place of the 2012 Top Ten list of emerging Business and Human Rights Issues.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Here it is: The new COMPASS HRE manual

Revised COMPASS just published

The revised version of "COMPASS - Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People" has recently been published in English language by the Council of Europe.

COMPASS is a practical tool and resource for citizenship and human rights education. It is an essential companion for all those who are curious and interested in making the right to human rights education a reality for everyone.

COMPASS was originally published in 2002 and is now available in more than 30 languages. A version specifically designed for human rights education with children – COMPASITO – enjoys a similar success. This fully revised and updated edition includes new activities and information about human rights issues such as disability and disablism, migration, religion, remembrance, war and terrorism.

COMPASS provides youth leaders, teachers and facilitators of human rights education activities, whether professional or volunteers, with concrete ideas and practical activities to engage, involve and motivate young people in living, learning and acting for human rights. It promotes a comprehensive perspective on human rights education and sees young people as actors for a culture of universal human rights.

For more information on this publication, please contact the European Youth Centre Budapest.

For the downloadable pdf-version please click here.

source: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/eycb/default_EN.asp

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Support for non-violent civil protests in Slovenia!

Since mid November the protests and peaceful demostrations aginst local and national politicians, that have started in Maribor, have spread all over Slovenia. We, the human rights educators
gathered at the Center for Citizenship Education, would like to express our full support for all citizens of Slovenia who are peacefully and with dignity taking part in these protests and are expressing their non-approval of existing politicians.

We share the opinion of the majority of protestors that 20 years ago we had voted for the independent state that would follow the rule od law and democracy and will be based on respect to fundamental human rights and freedms as well as values. That was our hope.

After two decades the picture shows - catastrophy. The period of so called transition, barbaric destruction of national economy, clientelism, nepotism, coruption and other deviations brought us to the same point as twenty years ago; only today the agresors are politicians without any morality who are spreading intolerance and fear among people.

There are many reasons for protests - but we urge all protestors as well as police (and in future maybe also soldiers) to keep the protests nonviolent and peacefull. Dear all in other countries: on 21st December 2012 the new demonstrations are taking place all over Slovenia. Show support to people of Slovenia in their non-violent and democratic spontanius rise agains the corupted system in every democratic and peaceful way you can!

Evidence of the 2nd peaceful uprising in Maribor, held on 26th november 2012, and violently stopped by police on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW93DamFSOE

Elena A. Begant
Program Director
***
Center for Citizenship Education
30 Robiceva Str SI-2341 Limbus Slovenia
www.eip-cdv.si info@eip-cdv.si FB
phone +386 246 11 585

Monday, 17 December 2012

Promoting “Active Citizens”? Confronting educational policies with the views of NGOs

Humanity in Action participated in a research project entitled “Participatory Citizenship Education in Transitional Societies” that aims at a wider understanding about Citizenship Education across Europe, and particularly whether educational policies, curricula and practices emphasise a political culture that values citizens’ active and critical participation.

From this research emerged a journal article titled "Promoting ‘active citizens’? The critical vision of NGOs over citizenship education as an educational priority across Europe" that was published in the International Journal of Progressive Education, Volume 8 Number 3, Oct 2012. The paper confronts educational policies with the views of NGOs in 20 European countries.

Download the journal here – the article starts at p.32

A quote from the summary:
“In the last decades, Citizenship Education (CE) has been at the forefront of both educational Policies and international research regarding curriculum design and impact on knowledge, values and skills. However, not only what citizenship “is”, is diversely conceived by different democratic traditions, but, obviously, CE also involves organisations beyond the walls of schools.
Results suggest that the vision of CE as a priority in educational policy documents is questioned by NGOs that consider schools are too focused on formal democracy and overemphasize respect for rules, values and responsibilities, rather than promoting critical, informed and active citizens. Especially in countries with an authoritarian past, NGOs consider that models of conformism and submission are still dominant, and emphasize the role of CE in promoting a strong civil society.“

NECE Conference report “Participation now! Citizenship Education and Democracy in Times of Change”, 21 - 24 November 2012, Cordoba, Spain


The NECE Conference, this year, took place in the wonderful and historical city of Córdoba, Andalucia, Spain and brought together several scientists, practitioners of citizenship and human rights education, governmental and non-governmental institutions from Europe and Arabic countries in order to promote the exchange and the debate around important key issues of these times as participation, the relationship between citizens and political institutions and the concepts of democracy in the face of worldwide processes of change, focusing on the developments in the Arab world after the “Arab Spring” in 2011 and the crisis of the EU. Also, the Conference aimed at establishing a platform for the future exchange between European and Arab citizenship initiatives.

Keynotes of the Conference included:
-       The crisis of the European project and the transformation in North Africa: Perspectives for democracy and citizenship education
-       Mutual perceptions and narratives in the Mediterranean dialogue and their influence on recent developments
-       1989 - 2012: How to rethink protest and participation in times of transition
-       Power, fear and empathy: Emotions in politics and educational processes

Apart from the theoretical moments of the Conference, participants were offered several parallel forums: on topics of citizenship education, in which brief expert statements provided an overview of the particular topic from a European and a North African perspective and on citizenship education in practice in which practical aspects of citizenship education and good practice projects and transnational models of cooperation were discussed and presented.

DARE Network, as partner of the Conference, was asked to moderate one of the Forum on citizenship education in practices: Intercultural learning on human rights and citizenship education, on Friday 23 November, in which two good practice projects were presented: “Free2Choose”, promoted by the Anne Frank Center (Germany) and the Anne Frank House (the Netherlands) and the “Intercultural Glossary Project”, promoted by Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the European Wergeland Center (Norway).

The Conference gave participants the possibility to have inputs from the real and active protagonists of the transition in the Arab countries, wishing at starting a sustainably change in the whole region. It was very interesting to understand how it is important for them to work hard for establishing democratic governments.

Benjamin Barber, Political Theorist (USA), in his speech, talking about democracy said: In United States half of the population don’t vote, while in order parts of the world people die to exercise their right to vote!” and ”Democracy is an exercise and every culture has to experiment it”.

During the Conference participants had the possibility to watch the documentary film “OUT OF CÓRDOBA”, directed by Jacob Bender, that explores some of the most vexing questions of our time: Is there a “clash of civilizations” between the West and the Islamic world? Are Jews and Muslims eternal enemies, incapable of peaceful coexistence? Does religious faith lead inevitably to xenophobia and violence? The documentary confronts these issues through an exploration of the lives and writings of the two most important thinkers to emerge from medieval Muslim Spain: Averroes the Muslim, and his Jewish counterpart, Rabbi Moses Maimonides.

All the presentation will be available soon on the NECE Conference website

report by Gabriella Patriiziano/ViS Italia

Friday, 14 December 2012

Human Rights and Democracy in Action – Looking Ahead - Conference report


The impact of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education, Council of Europe, Strasbourg29-30/11/2012

Roughly 2 years after the adoption of the COE Charter on EDC/HRE the Council of Europe in cooperation with the European Commission and the European Wergeland Centre organized the first review conference on the implementation of the Charter, which was at the same time an entry point for the coming European Year of Citizens 2014.
The conference brought together roughly 200 experts from ministerial level, formal education, intergovernmental organizations, research as well as youth organizations and activists / experts from the field of non-formal EDC/HRE. Thus comprising the wide field of stakeholders involved in the implementation of the charter on all different stages and levels.

As DARE was part of the conference planning group a first impressive result for us was the conference in itself happening and bringing such a variety of different stakeholders together. Personally I have to admit that the mix and involvement of the stakeholders - especially those from the youth and NGO sector - was a huge effort in itself as it offered the opportunity to really exchange views and knowledge the different groups gained so far with the charter on level of their work, if...

Flipping through the different presentations and discussion groups it appeared  that using the term of innovation and best practice really depends on the internal view of the educational sectors. EDC/HRE settings that are new und promising in programs from the formal sector might be out of fashion in non-formal settings, there is also a huge difference between adult and youth education, higher education - and other sectors..  
It would be promising to really foster the cross-sectoral disccussions as they might produce the really interesting results.

Two important reports related to the Charter were presented at the conference: David Kerr´s (DARE member Citizenship Foundation) analyzis of the governmental survey on the Charter gave first impressions on the implementation as reported by governments and the NGO´s survey conducted by the COE Youth department, that explicitly dealt with the NGO´s and youth organizations perspective on the charter.
Wrapping up the governmental report there is two  things I want to highlight: There seems to be a considerable number of states party to the European Cultural Convention that are active at implementing the charter at different levels. AND the promotion of the Charter in certain EDC/HRE areas has been strongest in formal education (primary, lower, and upper secondary) and in vocational education and training - according to the reports from the governmental level.
The biggest concern is that the states suggest for a future review in 2017 to concentrate on the implementation of the charter in the areas where promotion is already strong. This results in the danger of undermining the scope and ambition of the Charter, which treats all fields of education at the same level.

The NGO questionnaire was a bit experimental, as it concentrated also on answering questions to all of the Charters articles which might be a challenge for the level of NGO´s and Youth organizations. Nonetheless the report underlined first of all  the imbalanced promotion of the Charter on the national level, while another – to some surprising – result was that the reception in the non-EU countries seems to be bigger among NGOs than in the EU-countries. For the future it should be discussed if a questionnaire which focuses more on the respective situation of youth and non-formal organisation would allow for a more in depth analysis.

Also it might be worth critically asking if a more independent approach for the national governmental surveys would have produced other quality results, as there seems to be the risk that the reports deliver the answers that are easy accessible for the respective sectors, and naturally the implementation in the formal sector is easier to report for governments. 
.
To me very interesting and necessary was the several times mentioned need to further much broader involve adult education in EDC/HRE policies and also to concentrate on adult education as highly relevant target in the implementation of the Charter.

Out of the NGO´s perspective the strong focus on formal education in these discussions is still worth a bigger dispute as in the meanwhile there is a lot of research evidence that the results of non formal EDC/HRE are more lasting and better than formal education produces. 
In this regard the presentation of the EURIDYCE survey from the EC was very interesting. In line with the conclusions from the governmental questionnaire it reported that EDC/HRE is all over Europe embedded in the curricula. Critically one could indicate at this point that an average of 2-15 minutes EDC/HRE in a week school is clearly nothing to be proud of… and might not be the lasting experience that gives people the idea that EDC/HRE can really make a difference.
Mr Pierre Mairesse from the European Commission as well underlined the importance of teachers and schools as key agents for EDC/HRE in one of his concluding remarks which was in so far interesting as he he did not mention the EP´s different concept of an future lifelong learning program but was arguing in view of the Commissions ERASMUS FOR ALL proposal for an integrated program , where he saw a lot of space and opportunities  for the purposes of citizenship education...
This two conclusions to me are indicator for danger we currently face in the field of EDC/HRE. There is a tendency to give easy accessible results and answers. But Citizenship Education and Human Rights Education is not a field where you can give easy answers, if your agenda is not just focusing on formal democracy (i.e. emphazising rules, values and responsiblities - which are one side of the coin).   


One of the main and important recommendations to non-formal NGO providers is to remain independent providers of EDC/HRE even if the current situation is difficult in a lot of countries. Non-formal education is able to make the difference in EDC/HRE, it is able to change the paradigms of learning and is the only field of education that has proven its capacity to successfully train and promote critical informed and active democratic citizenship. One  should not easily give up the standing independent and non-formal Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights has gained so far.


Taking into regard the rather strict focus on formal education the intergovernmental and state level currently has, there is a huge need to even stronger argue for non-formal EDC/HRE.

The DARE network was honoured to be a partner in the organising group of the conference and we hope we did contribute from our side relevant aspects. The cooperation with the COE bodies and their accepatnce of NGO´s as partners is in itself a practice and role model for good implementation of the Charter.

As always when it comes to reviewing there is more concentration on the critical issues, but it should be mentioned that this is the question of the perspective: is the cup half-full or half-empty after the  first two years of the Charter?


The conference report by Audray Asler, will be available end of January, there is a conference website with all presentations, reports, speeches on http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/edc/conference2012/speeches_FR.asp

EU 2014-2020 current state of affairs on the future of lifelong learning


On 26/27 November the European Parliaments Education and Culture Committee adopted  after discussing not less than 841 amendment requests - a recommendation for the parliament decision on a successor of the Lifelong learning Program called “YES Europe” (Youth Education Sport). MEP DORIS PACK and the members of the CULT committee have done indeed a great job  with this recommendation!

Other than the European Commissions recommendation for a new integrated and streamlined program Erasmus for All, the CULT committee suggests a program that is built precisely on the good results of the current Lifelong Learning Program. YES Europe includes streams for Higher Education, Vocational Training, School, Adult Education, and continues the brand names of the current LLP: Erasmus, Leonardo, Comenius and Grundtvig. A separate chapter is reserved for youth and most important the institutional funding for European Umbrella organizations is being continued. The suggestion in this regards is really taking into account the needs of civil society organizations, (this giving some hope that Brussels is not yet totally lost to the neo-liberal lobbies).

Out of a EDC/HRE perspective there is still the fear that lifelong learning will  lose its connection to non-formal Citizenship Education and Human Rights Education.

Still the European commission seems not to be very open to the suggested changes, especially when it comes to the continuation of structural supports for civil society organizations. It is at this stage hardly to comprehend why the EC with its suggestion for future programs blocks the involvement of civil society. Thus especially as recent studies such as “The Future of European Democracy” (Claudio Franzius and Ulrich Preuß, Heinrich Böll Foundation, 2012) suggest the broad and structural involvement of civil society organizations in decision making processes in order to cope with the democratic deficits of the EU.

The recommendation of the CULT comittee is  late but still at the right time. The process of the negotiations on the future EU budget 2014-2020 is stuck due to different perspectives the member states have on the new budget.

In beginning of 2013 the member states will have to agree upon the Councils proposal, then the Troika negotiations between Council, EC and EP will follow. Here EC, Council and EP have to agree upon a solution. However there are controversial positions. While the Council and the EP seem to be in line with the EP´s suggestion on the LLL program, the EP and the EC share the view of an increased budget for the new Multiannual Finacial Frame 2014-2020. Ms Pack asked the EP for a negotiation mandate on the follow up of the LLP in this process. 
There is also time pressure: the longer the negotiation processes take, the less time will be left for a decent operational preparation of the new program lines starting on from January first 2014.

Still there is nothing secured! For the work on the national level NGO´s should continue to argue on level of their ministries for the  program suggestion, in order not to risk to lose the efforts made so far in the coming horse-trading  around the new EU budget.





Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Funding for Erasmus 2013 secured


Current and future Erasmus students can be reassured: Member States and the European Parliament have averted a funding crisis which threatened the popular exchange scheme after a last-ditch agreement which has enabled the EU to plug a shortfall in the 2012 budget and remove uncertainty about funding for 2013. Thanks to the agreement, the Commission will be able to provide around 280 000 Erasmus student grants in the 2013-2014 academic year.
The agreement also avoids problems for the other schemes run under the Lifelong Learning Programme (Leonardo for apprentices, Comenius for schools, Grundtvig for adult education), which enable young people and teaching staff to broaden their skills and career prospects through study or training in a foreign country. The budget deal also lifts uncertainty surrounding the Marie Curie Actions which support the international mobility of researchers.
The agreement, formally approved today by the European Parliament after a green light from Member States last week, wipes out a €180 million deficit in the 2012 budget for the Lifelong Learning Programme; the shortfall caffecting Erasmus amounted top around €90 million out of this total.
The agreement means that the Commission can now transfer necessary funds to the national agencies which are responsible for running Erasmus in the Member States. The agencies will then release funds to beneficiaries of the programme, including the home universities and colleges which pay the monthly grants to students.
The Council and the European Parliament have also reached an agreement on the 2013 EU budget which means around €500 million for Erasmus €1 015 million for the Lifelong Learning Programme as a whole. Erasmus accounts for more than 40% of the Lifelong Learning programme budget. Nearly 90% of the Erasmus budget is invested in student and staff mobility.

from the EC  EAC newsletter

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

VOICE - the new HRE manual

"VOICE. Key competencies for citizenship education."
This is the title of the new HRE/EDC manual, published in English, Estonian, German, Slovenian and Turkish language, introducing key competencies oriented problem based learning into active citizenship education.

The manual is a result of two year Comenius multilateral project partnership. The project's consortium was composed of educational experts and practitioners from nine different institutions from Austria, Estonia, Germany, Slovenia and Turkey.

The manual itself is designed on basis of the Needs Analyses done in the participating partner countries in April and May 2011, and was tested on secondary schools as well as voccational levels of formal education in respected countries.

The VOICE manual is a toolkit which supports teachers and other professional educators in promoting students’ key competences for active citizenship and lifelong learning. Through competence-oriented learning and active learning it aims to develop young peoples’ learning-to-learn skills as well as their social and civic competences.

VOICE follows an interdisciplinary and integrated approach. The manual has been designed for teachers and educators of all subjects as a flexible, practice-oriented and user-friendly tool providing a set of options for activities. The modules and worksheets can be selected or adapted according to the given conditions in classroom (time-frame, student’s needs and competences, thematic priorities etc.).

The material is suitable for students between the ages of 14 and 18 and can be flexibly adapted according to your students’ differing levels of knowledge and competence.

More on the VOICE project nad manual on VOICE official project's website.

VOICE manual promotional workshops in Slovenia will be offered in 2013 by Center for Citieznship Education.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Publish your human rights story in THE MAG!

The MaG” is an online magazine covering human rights issues from around the world. You will find mainly articles, but also photos and videos about women’s rights, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, global politics and also topics covering arts and cultural life from all around the world.


Volunteers wanted!
If there is something interesting going on in your country related to human rights, or if you are visiting a place and want to let the world know about a human rights issue you’ve just learned about, then you are more than welcome to publish your article on The MaG.

Please send an email with the subject “volunteer article for The MaG” to info (at) globaleyes-production.com.
“The MaG” is a product of Global Eyes Production.