What is Human Rights Friendly Schools?


In this globalized 21st century, young people are living in a diverse and changing world, a world in which violence, poverty, inequality and other injustices are still very much the reality of many people. The realisation of human rights, justice and peace demands an on-going commitment and action from current generations, both from governments and the civil society – including children and young people.

How can schools work with young people to promote the ideals of justice and peace? Why do teachers need to be familiar with human rights? How do schools resolve tensions between teachers’ rights and children’s rights?

These are just a few questions that the project of the Estonian Institute of Human Rights Inimõigused haridussüsteemis – võrgustumine, õpetajakoolitus ning noorte võimestamine* aims to address. The main aspect of the project is the creation of a network of 12 “Human Rights Friendly Schools”. The call for candidacy is now open (www.humanrightsestonia.ee/inimoigustesobralikkud-koolid), and the selection of the participating schools will be done by 15th of September.

Becoming a Human Rights Friendly School means more than just enabling students to learn about human rights. The Human Rights Friendly Schools project transforms the school into a place where human rights are an integral part of everything the school community does, from the way decisions are made in schools, to the activities that are conducted, to the environment in which students are taught. This is called a whole school approach or holistic approach to human rights education.

Every participating school will analyse its own reality and needs and will develop a plan for integrating human rights principles into all aspects: the school environment, its governance, relationships, curricular and extra-curricular activities. Schools are encouraged to innovate and invite as many views as possible when developing their action plans. At the core of the whole process is a team composed of director and teachers.

The plan will be implemented during the whole school year 2013-2014.

The project also allows the translation into Estonian language of the Council of Europe’s COMPASS-Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People. The teachers will benefit of training on how to use the manual.

Further exchanges with other schools from abroad applying the “whole school approach to human rights education” are foreseen.


* Projekt rahastab EMP toetuste Vabaühenduste Fond Avatud Eesti Fondi vahendusel. Projekti partnerid on Haridus- ja Teadusministeerium, MTÜ Avatud Vabariik ja Norra Helsinki Komitee.

** The „Human Rights Friendly Schools“ approach was developed by Amnesty International.