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Human rights education in humanitarian settings: opportunities and challenges

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Written by Nicola Jones

Hero image description: A young Rohingya refugee girl in a UNICEF temporary learning centre funded by UKAid in Cox’s Bazar Image credit:Russell Watkins/DfID

Human rights education in humanitarian settings provides an opportunity for adolescent refugees to understand and exercise their human rights, respect the rights of others, and gain active citizenship skills. This paper examines non-formal education programmes and the extent to which they embed education aboutthrough and for human rights; it draws on mixed method data from two diverse contexts – Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Syrian refugees in Jordan.

We find stark differences in how human rights are reflected in non-formal education programming for refugees. In Jordan, the Makani programme integrates human rights across subjects and teacher pedagogy, and fosters skills for active citizenship. By contrast, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, a lack of basic rights hinders the delivery of meaningful human rights education for Rohingya adolescents. We conclude that human rights education should be a core pillar of humanitarian responses, but that it requires significant adaptations to contextual realities.

A young Rohingya refugee girl in a UNICEF temporary learning centre funded by UKAid in Cox’s Bazar
Image credit:Russell Watkins/DfID
Megan Devonald, Nicola Jones, Silvia Guglielmi, Jennifer Seager and Sarah Baird