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Education Q&A with Amnesty International's Salil Shetty

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  • uploaded: Mar 24, 2014
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Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: International Secretary General Salil Shetty answers crowdsourced questions for the Global Education and Skills Forum, :-- What is the biggest dream you want to achieve in the field of education?-- Should human rights and humanitarian law be taught in all college settings?-- How much is corruption affecting education around the world?-- For those in the private sector, what are some best practices for acting responsibly in regards to human rights?Transcript-- Question: What is the biggest dream you want to achieve in the field of education? From an Amnesty International perspective I would say the biggest dream that we would have for education is to actually make the right to education a reality for every single child and adult in the world. Because education is a fundamental human right and it affects every single other right, which is precisely why if you take the Economic Social Rights Covenant the right to education gets mentioned twice in two different articles. Whereas for other economic social rights governments have the option of progressive realization, which means they can do it over time. For the right to education they have been given only two years to come up with a clear delivery plan to make sure that compulsory and free education is available to every child of the the reality as we know it is that there's more than 250 million children who are out of school who are not really learning much and you can be sure that these numbers are severely underestimated. Now, if you go to the underlying reason why this is happening you'd find in most contexts that the fundamental underlying problem is one of deep discrimination. And that's really a human rights issue. Whether it's discrimination against girls, against minorities, ethnic groups, disabled people, so multiple forms of discrimination and prejudice. So my dream is that we tackle this discrimination in a very head on way. Amnesty international has done various studies. You take children in Afghanistan for example, kids are displaced don't get access to education. Palestinian Arab children in Israel don't have access to education simply because of their anti-dissidents. But it's not even just in poor countries. In some of the richest countries, the Czech Republic for example, Roma children are discriminated and don't have access to education. So yes, my dream is that every child doesn't suffer from discrimination. Every adult who wants lifelong learning is not excluded from education. Every human being has a right to education. And this is a fundamental right and the world and the international community and all of us need to work towards that end. Question: Should human rights and humanitarian law be taught in all college settings? There's no question. In fact the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which almost every government in the world has signed up to is clear that human rights, human dignity, human values need to be taught in schools and colleges. Think of the situation in Syria for example today where we've had millions of people who have lost their lives or displaced, lost their livelihood. Would this of happened if every individual in Syria had a respect for fairness, for equality, for the other? And if you don't have this you might have education but what we're seeing in the world is increasing numbers of educated unemployed. What are we going to have in the world tomorrow if every child and every individual doesn't respect other people for their intrinsic worth? So yes, I think there's a lot of lip service, which is paid. In fact the Convention on the Rights of the Child insists that this is included. But in reality how many schools and how many universities and colleges deeply integrate human right education? Amnesty International runs a global program called Human Rights Friendly Schools where it's fundamentally integrated into the way in which the school works. It's not a matter of just giving a lecture on human rights because there's many lectures been given on civic responsibility human rights, but it has to be internalized, it has to be converted into lived experience. And it's not in schools alone but in every household. But absolutely the answer is it must be integrated and it must be done now. [transcript truncated]Directed and Produced by Jonathan Fowler



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