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Teach Human Rights To School Children, Says Kerala Chief Justice; Can Education Build A Just Society?

At a recent event, S. Manikumar, Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, urged the state government to include “Human Rights” as a subject in educational institutions. This begs the question: At a time when people continue to violate their rights and have to take to the streets to uphold the freedoms they are entitled to, how does building education around this topic help?

It is a generally accepted idea that education is the prerequisite for a healthy and progressive mind. Therefore, what is taught and preached in schools is the key to shaping tomorrow’s society. Living in a democratic environment makes it essential for every individual (regardless of age, gender, race and other criteria) to be aware of the rights guaranteed to him as a human being.

Baby Steps To A Long Way

At an event organized by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), Judge Manikumar stressed the need to raise awareness among young people of the concepts of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as given in the preamble of the Indian constitution. He noted that these ideas summarize the basics of human rights and said that much of society remains in the dark about their basic human rights. He firmly believes that education is the solution to this and would take the country “a long way”.

Teaching young students the concepts of human rights teaches them to respect others, protect their rights and the rights of vulnerable sections of society, and maintain a just and free community as provided for in the Indian Constitution. According to a report by The Hindu, he also suggested a range of topics that could be included in the curricula, such as human rights, the preamble, fundamental rights and duties.

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Why is it necessary?

Considered the world’s largest democracy, India lags behind when it comes to guaranteeing socio-economic rights to its citizens. This statement can be gleaned from the global rankings of the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI), the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index, the UN Human Development Index and other initiatives over the years. Human rights education solves this huge problem on a significant scale by imparting knowledge and forming attitudes.

Education in India is in itself a fundamental human right which is considered free and compulsory for all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as per Article 21-A in the Constitution of India. However, many students in the country are deprived of this right from the start. Human rights are a complex subject that, if simplified in the context of a society’s moral and social traditions, can reach a wider range of people. The ideal space to initiate such conversations are schools. As John Dewey (1909) once stated, the school is ultimately the model of a good society. And by understanding the idea of ​​school as a community, citizens learn to understand and feel involved in the political nation.

Even for developing students, including human rights in primary education would help them express their ideas and understand their rights and their significance in today’s world. From an early age, they would be empowered to build a space where students, like citizens, could be treated equally in terms of their diversity.

Also read: Know where India stands in protecting civil rights and events that challenged the world’s largest democracy

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