Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Democracy In Today’s Schools

International Conference - 24-28 September 1997, Primorsco, Bulgaria

Student groups, together with teachers from Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, some NGO representatives, European Council members and Open Education representatives participated the conference on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Democracy in Today’s School held between 24-28 September 1997 in Primorsko, Bulgaria.

Subjects covered were studied in workshops. Participating student groups included high-school students previously educated earlier in their country about citizenship and human rights. For example, linked to a project of Open Education Centre in Bulgaria, university students are educated on various subjects, and they educate high-school students in summer-camps and weekend seminars. In Romania, teenagers between 13 and 15 years of age were educated on the main subject in summer-camps by volunteering NGO groups, and youth self-government councils were established in every city. Participants from Russia did not have so much experience.

Debates were held between workshops. Introduced techniques were different from the formal debate, for example, the Parliamentary Debate. These techniques determine both sides of the subject in discussion and allow the audience to speak. One of the debate topics was “citizenship education must be an obligatory course”. Besides this, topics such as “what can we do when our rights are violated at school?”, “parents, students, teachers and human rights”, “is there a limit for human rights?” were designated. Groups had discussions on the problems. Other adults participated in the meetings from time to time. As the teenagers determined the rules of speech, the discussions took place without dispersion.

NGO representatives, European Council members, teachers and ourselves have all informed each other about books, in particular the books by an NGO in Russia, the Moscow School of Human Rights, which were very good in terms of the subject under discussion. Those books aiming to teach human rights at young ages with fairy tales and pictures were worth seeing.