“Human rights education is widely considered to be integral to every child’s right to a quality education, one that not only teaches reading, writing and arithmetic, but also strengthens the child’s capacity to enjoy the full range of human rights and promotes a culture which is infused by human rights values.”
The United Nations, in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has set up an action plan, which is the Plan of Action: World Programme for Human Rights Education. The plan states that the Ministry of Education, schools and other educations related bodies to work together to integrate human rights education effectively in the school system. The plan was signed by the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly on 14 July 2005. Malaysia, as a Member State is responsible for implementing this action plan.
The First Phase of the Plan of Action: World Programme for Human Rights Education provides that “Good governance has also been referred to as the exercise of power through political processes and institutional transparency and accountability, and encouraging community participation. When discussing human rights issues, we always refer to the standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and clarified in a number of international conventions that define a minimum standard for ensuring human dignity.”
In line with the Plan of Action as well as it core function to promote awareness and provide education in relation to human rights, SUHAKAM has conducted various educational programmes in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to inculcate awareness and practice of human rights among teachers and students.
In 2009, the Commission and the MOE embarked on Human Rights Best Practices Programme (HRBPS) in five (5) schools that involved a more comprehensive school community. The goals of this programme are :-
- To encourage students and school staff to be aware and take steps to adopt human and children’s rights.
- To cultivate an attitude of respect and responsibility regarding human and children’s rights as well as practicing it in everyday life.
- To increase the understanding and practice of human and children’s rights for their well-being.
- To encourage students and teachers to be aware to the aspects of human and children’s rights in the planning and implementation of activities in school.
- To share experiences on human rights and children’s rights as practiced in school and local community.
- To strengthen communication and interaction among students regardless of race, religion and gender.
The number of schools involved in this program increased to 17 in 2011 and as of 2016, there are 222 participating schools throughout Malaysia including in Sabah and Sarawak.
In order to monitor implementation of the programme, SUHAKAM conducts regular visits to the participating schools to observe progress and, where necessary, to provide guidance and advice to the latter.