The study of human rights becomes a core subject in Kenyan universities

A number of Kenya’s universities are setting themselves apart, joining the very few higher education institutions, globally, to include human rights as a common core course for undergraduate students.

The University of Nairobi, a leading educational institution in Kenya, with a student population of 60,000 has committed to introduce human rights into its undergraduate curriculum and in turn, the UN Human Rights Office has undertaken to provide technical support for development of the curriculum and the training of university lecturers. 

Describing the formal agreement reached between the University and the UN Human Rights Office as a “milestone achievement”, UN Resident Coordinator, Nardos Bekele-Thomas said it was testimony “to the university’s vision of being a world-class university committed to scholarly excellence.”

“It is, most importantly, aligned to the university’s mission of providing quality university education and training that embodies the aspirations of the Kenyan people,” she said.

Initialing the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the United Nations, Bekele-Thomas said that human rights underpin the principles of governance recognized in the constitution of Kenya. She commended the university for proactively pioneering a collaboration that will align the skills of its students to the demands of an evolving world where human rights are an integral and inseparable component of governance.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Nairobi University, Professor Lucy Irungu emphasized the importance of human rights education stressing that universities have a role to play in ensuring that human rights are well understood by the general public.

This is the second agreement reached with a Kenyan university to introduce human rights as a core subject for undergraduate students. The University of Laikipia in Kenya launched its human rights curriculum late last year, which is based on the 2010 constitution and taken by all first year students.

21 August 2014

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