The Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, has just launched the results of its research into Irish Primary teachers understanding of human rights and human rights education. This study provides the first national baseline data in relation to primary teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of human rights and HRE and contributes to the development of a research base on HRE in Ireland. The findings of the study help identify the needs of teachers and schools in relation to the delivery of HRE and also point to the level of compliance of the Irish state with regard to its commitment to implement HRE in primary schools.
While the study’s findings were positive in relation to respondents’ attitudes and openness towards human rights and HRE, the results support concerns regarding the level of knowledge of human rights and human rights instruments amongst teachers (Osler and Starkey, 2010; Imber, 2008; Casas, Saporiti, Gonzalez, Figuer, Rostan, Sadurni, Alsinet, Gusó, Grignoli, Mancini, Ferrucci and Rago, 2006; Fritzsche, 2006; Tibbitts, 2002). What emerged from the survey are many examples of practices occurring in primary schools and classrooms which respond to human rights concerns and incorporate rights respecting approaches. However, these activities tend to be inexplicit in their relationship with human rights. Furthermore, despite much of the literature reflecting the potential for HRE to provide transformative learning experiences and critique social injustices (Tibbitts and Kirscshlaeger 2010; Magendzo, 2005; Tibbitts, 2005; Tibbitts, 2002), respondents’ conceptualisation of human rights tended to ignore hierarchical social structures, whilst their approach to HRE focused on improved social cohesion rather than empowerment.
To view a full version of the research report go to: www.spd.dcu.ie/hosted/chrce/Research.htm
Education for a Just World, is a new partnership initiative between Trocaire and the Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin. The Partnership has conducted research into young children’s engagement with issues of global justice. The research approach taken was qualitative, informed by the ‘mosaic’ approach (Clark and Moss, 2001) and drawn from existing classroom practices.
The children in the study appeared able to identify other people’s needs, to consider what would happen if these needs were not met and on some occasions made direct links with poverty. The previous experience of children was an important factor in their engagement with ideas of poverty and need. In all settings, children had a pre-existing knowledge of Africa and had already made an association between Africa and the issue of poverty. Only in the senior infant setting did the children use the language of poverty and wealth. For younger children it appears that there is a conceptual understanding of people not having enough but that use of terms such as “poor” and “rich” develops later. This supports the findings of Ramsey (1990) that children have a limited understanding of the causes of poverty and also suggests that their understanding is an emerging one.
The research makes a contribution to education literature in a number of ways. This is the first time research of this nature has taken place in the context of development education in an Irish context. The findings are consistent with current post-structural theories of childhood which hold that children are capable of independent thinking, agency and can understand issues beyond their own self-interest. Most significantly, the research identified starting points which can inform development education programmes for young children on food and other global justice issues
For a full version of the research report go to: www.spd.dcu.ie/hosted/chrce/Research.htm
This research is concerned primarily with the qualifications required by teachers in post-primary and further education in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It seeks to examine and compare recent developments in the UK (TDA 2007) and Ireland (TCI) around professional teacher standards, and what these actually mean for trainee teachers and the teacher training programmes.
Mr Justin Rami, Dublin City University
St Mary’s University College, Belfast