Malagasy children to receive human rights education in schools

Pupils beneficiairies of catch up classes in the primary school of Ampasy Nampoina, Anosy region, Madagascar, 2020. @ UNICEF/UNI302869/Ralaivita

The UN Country Team in Madagascar, UN Human Rights and the Ministry of National Education of Madagascar have signed a landmark MOU to integrate basic human rights education into the curricula of primary and secondary schools throughout the country.

This breakthrough is the result of the implementation of recommendations made to Madagascar by the UN Human Rights Council during the country's 2014 and 2019 Universal Periodic Reviews.

Since 2019, the senior human rights adviser in the UN Country Team has been providing technical support to the Ministry of National Education, by developing a Training of Trainers programme for some 20 human rights experts led by the human rights focal point at the Ministry of National Education. With financial support of UN Human Rights, these experts also developed and received materials - such as an interactive booklet for pupils, a manual for teachers and a human rights card game, to support the human rights training of teachers and education for pupils.

"The integration of human rights into school curricula will result in key impacts such as the strengthening of women's role within the Malagasy society as well as the reduction of violence and poverty," said Vanessa Tolojanahary Tahirintsoa, an enthusiastic sixth grader at Anosisoa Secondary School in Antananarivo.

Human rights education promotes values, beliefs and attitudes that encourage all individuals to uphold their own rights and the rights of others. It constitutes an essential contribution to the long-term prevention of abuses and is an important investment to achieving just societies where the human rights of each individual are promoted and respected.

The signatories of the MOU hope this new initiative will contribute to promoting human rights across Madagascar, strengthen students' personal development and reinforce their understanding of their responsibility in making human rights a reality in their communities.

"Human rights education will develop students as good citizens and will help them adopt non-violent behaviours in their interpersonal relationships and as they deal with everyday challenges in Malagasy society," said the Minister of National Education, Marie Michelle Sahondrarimalala.

The minister's views were echoed by Ms. Ravaoarinirina, physics teacher at Ambohitrimanjaka Secondary School, who pointed out that, "Students who are aware of their rights will be able to defend them and the rights of others, and will promote human dignity and equality at school and within the society."

The new MOU follows consecutive agreements signed by Madagascar's UN Country Team since 2014 to enhance human rights education in various national institutions, such as the Departments of Defense and Security Forces, and academic institutions, such as the Law Department of the University of Antananarivo in April 2015. The UN Country Team hopes to build other partnerships with three other universities in Madagascar.

"The UN Country Team is committed to supporting the Government in the implementation of the MOU, which will undoubtedly help sow the seed of human rights among the youth and children," the UN Resident Coordinator, Issa Sanogo, said of the recent breakthrough. "This is essential to building a more just, inclusive and peaceful society."

13 April 2021

See also