Research Project on Human Rights in Daily School Life
MENSCHEN/RECHTE/BILDUNG is conducted in the framework of the funding programme Sparkling Science, financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research.
Project Information: Research Project on Human Rights in Daily School Life
The idea for this research project derives from a UN programme, the „World Programme for Human Rights Education“ whose core is an plan of action to implement human rights in daily school life. Six years after the publication of the world programme it is time to evaluate how its goals could be realized in Austrian grammar schools. The European Union and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research commissioned the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (ETC Graz) with the respective research project. The project team is a group of students of the grammar school Klusemannstraße, supported by the team of ETC graz.
Project duration is one year during which the Klusemannstraße students slip into the roles of researchers. They enquire the impact of human rights on tuition and daily school life in three grammar schools in Graz by interviewing other students on their knowledge, attitudes and opinions. Additionally, they will interview the school principals on the significance of human rights in their institutions and moderate teacher discussions on the topic of human rights in class. For the time they need for their research during the mornings they will be exempted from regular lessons.
From the research data ETC Graz will collect good practices and elaborate recommendations for the implementation of human rights education in grammar schools together with the student researchers. The results will be published in a project report which will, of course, list the students as authors. Furthermore, they will participate in the public presentation of the project results and receive a certificate on participating in the project as scientific collaborators. Some will also have the opportunity to talk about their project experiences in a Radion Helsinki serial programme.
Contact: Simone Philipp 0316 380 1534
Methodology and Activities
Until end of October
2 workshops, 4 lessons each:
Until Christmas holidays
Until the semester break
Contact: Simone Philipp 0316 380 1534
Workshop 1: Menschenrechte & Menschenrechtsbildung
After the student members of the grammar school Klusemannstraße project group had become familiar with human rights philosophy and the system of human rights protection under the guidance of their teacher Günter Hofbauer the first content workshop was conducted by the ETC on October 13th, from 8.50 to 12.35 a.m. Workshop topics were the right to education and human rights education.
In the first part of the workshop, students were given a comprehensive overview on the right to education and on this basis they discussed a selected text. The second part of the workshop dealt with the goals and contents of human rights education. Starting from a theoretical input the students discussed their personal experiences in this field and possible questions for the interviews with the three different target groups.
Handout Recht auf Bildung und Menschenrechtsbildung ... (pdf, in German)
Workshop 2: Socioscientific practice
The second workshop with the grammar school Klusemannstraße project group was conducted on October 28th, from 8.50 to 12.35 a.m. The students were given a comprehensive introduction to the methodology of face-to-face depth interviews. Then they made themselves familiar with the recording equipment and tested the interview questions elaborated by the ETC by interviewing one another. After this practice test the students discussed the interview questions on the basis of their experiences and chose the questions they considered most adequate. To conclude the workshop, the students listened to one of the interviews recorded and discussed challenges and ways to do better.
Workshop 3: Analysis and interpretation
The third workshop which was held in February 2011 aimed to integrate the students into the analyses and interpretation of the interviews, as well as to ask them for their feedback on the project. In this very productive workshop, the students analyzed the interview situations, compared their impressions of the interviewees as well as the responses, drew conclusions and made suggestions for improvements. The students contributed valuable ideas to the interpretation of the findings, gave a constructive feedback on the project and, last but not least, reflected their own learning process.
The interviews and the focus group were analyzed and interpreted by the scientific team of the ETC. The transcriptions were coded with MAXqda and interpreted in a six-person team, following the method of content analysis according to Mayring.
Workshop 4: Good practices and recommendations
The fourth and last workshop was dedicated to the presentation and discussion of the findings, especially regarding:
After the plenar discussion the students worked in groups to elaborate “good practices” and recommendations that could contribute to improve Human Rights Education at school. They focused on the field of:
Winding up, the students shared their experiences once again in a final feedback round.
To what extent human rights education is regarded as important largely depends on the personal interest of the respective teacher. In principle, human rights can be included in the curriculum of any subject. However, there are some subjects more suitable to deal with human rights issues – i.e. “German”, “history and political education” or “religion”. For a successful learning it is especially important to teach human rights in reference to student’s everyday life.
Students, however, are not aware of the role of human rights in their daily life. They do know some specific human rights – i.e. Freedom of expression, the Right to liberty, the Right to education or Religious Freedoms – but they can hardly remember any concrete subject matter. Violations of human rights are attributed to far-away countries but are not seen in the immediate surroundings, i.e. in bullying at school.
Teachers and headmasters define the promotion of a fair and respectful behaviour in interpersonal relations as a major goal of human rights education. To achieve this aim, responsibility has to be taken by schools as well as other institutions of society (i.e. the family).
Most students speak of a good atmosphere in class, which does not mean that there weren’t any outsiders. There were hardly any reported incidents of physical violence. However, bullying seems to be widespread, especially among younger students (grades 5 to 8). With social media like facebook being commonly used by teenagers, there is also a new form of cyber-bullying.
When asked to give their own definition of a respectful behaviour, students refer to accepting different opinions as well as to politeness and helpfulness.
The learning environment can have an impact on students’ behaviour. Social competence can be furthered by offering “peer-mediation” or subjects like “Social learning”. The learning environment strongly depends on the teachers’ personal initiative to organize projects, study trips or new subjects. Headmasters willingly point to the autonomy of the teachers, when it comes to the concrete implementation of human rights education. Teachers also decide for themselves if they allow an evaluation on their teaching or if they attend further teacher trainings.
The full report on the research will be presented mid October at the BG/BRG Klusemannstraße Graz.