Universal Concerns and local context: Developing Human Rights Education in Bangladesh through collaborative action research.

Year: 2018

Author: Islam, Md Khairul

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The need to develop Human Rights Education (HRE) in formal and informal school programs is receiving significant attention amongst policy makers and educators across the world and in Bangladesh. United Nations bodies including UNESCO and UNICEF are advocating global attention on HRE. According to UNESCO (2011), “in order to be effective, human rights education must be context specific: programs must draw on national experiences and existing social, economic and cultural conditions” (p.52). However, despite some modest successes, most countries in the world largely failed to engage their schools adequately in promoting HRE in a systematic and meaningful way (Print, Ugarte, Naval & Mihr, 2008). This is also evident in Bangladesh although the government has introduced education curriculum and policies for HRE. This paper reports the findings of a case study that explored how HRE was implemented in a secondary school in Bangladesh through considering universal concerns and the local context. The qualitative case study approach included action research collaboration between the researcher, the head teacher, classroom teachers, students and parents. Teachers were engaged in reflection on their current views on teaching and learning in this field and then involved in action research to build their professional learning and capacity to develop a context-based approach of HRE.  The findings indicated that prior to the action research, HRE was not well developed as teachers had no professional learning about HRE and student voice and critical involvement in the issues of human rights was invisible. This paper discusses how the action research strategies and implementation of planned teaching and learning that encompassed both universal and local human rights concerns enabled the development of HRE in the school. Exemplars of the strategies and the findings from reflective strategies are discussed.The findings demonstrated the importance of local context-based, action oriented approaches to HRE in schools that consider universal concerns, and include school leaders, teachers, and parents in the learning.