Law Professor Expedites Adoption of Human Rights Education in SA School Curriculum
Acting Director of UKZN’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies Professor David McQuoid-Mason’s collaboration with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has ensured that a comprehensive human rights education programme be formally adopted nationally in all public schools.
This initiative, the first of its kind in the world, is expected to be rolled out later this year by the Department of Basic Education, embedding a comprehensive Bill of Rights/human rights education programme from Grades 4 to12 in South Africa and the SADEC countries.
‘I was part of the United Nations (UN) Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights team that was involved in promoting the UN Decade of Human Rights and the subsequent proposal for a Decade of Human Rights Education, so I was very pleased to play a small role in assisting the SAHRC with its promotion of human rights education in our schools,’ said McQuoid-Mason.
SAHRC Commissioner Mohamed Shafie Ameermia said that his mandate on Access to Justice at the Commission was to explore ways of embedding a comprehensive Bill of Rights/human rights education programme into the country’s education system.
‘From June 2015 when I first hosted a Colloquium on Access to Justice, involving a multi stakeholder engagement, I invited Professor David McQuoid-Mason, (because of his Street Law expertise and his extensive experience in clinical legal education), to share his expertise with the Commission. Through the resolutions of the Colloquium, we invited the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development as well as the Department of Basic Education and other strategic partners on human rights education from around the country, to work on designing the teaching and learning methodologies of embedding a comprehensive human rights education programme.
‘Finally in July 2017, we successfully completed this exercise, and it was acknowledged by the UN Human Rights Council as a first comprehensive human rights education model of its kind in the world,’ explained Commissioner Ameermia.
This project was endorsed by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa together with the SADEC countries- through it Council of Education Ministers (CEM), as a blue print plan of action in creating a comprehensive human rights pedagogy around the teaching, training and learning of human rights education in the life orientation subject of the school curriculum, aimed at reaching over 10 million learners, in line with the aims and objectives of the National Development Plans (NDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
McQuoid-Mason and his Street Law team, played a pivotal role in this project. ‘Being a key member and part of my section 11 Committee, established in terms of the South African Human Rights Commission Act 40 of 2013, he generously shared his expertise on human rights education from its inception, design, to its ultimate successful completion in 2017. He strategically assisted and guided the Commission throughout the entire process and we are very proud of our efforts in this regard in that, through a strategic multi-stakeholder collaborative partnership effort, it turned out to be the first successful attempt in the world at reshaping a comprehensive human rights education model for learners in a holistic way,’ said Commissioner Ameermia.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Albert Hirasen