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HREA Director testifies for Massachusetts House Joint Judiciary Committee to support Human Rights Bill 706

"We need to highlight this opportunity for teachers and support them in teaching human rights in the classroom"

For immediate release
June 6, 2005

On June 5, HREA Director Felisa Tibbitts testified before the Joint Judiciary Committee of the House of the state of Massachusetts about the proposed Human Rights Bill 706*. The Massachusetts Human Rights Bill (HB706) would establish a Special Commission to review international human rights standards and evaluate their integration into the policies and laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "I have lived in Massachusetts for over 25 years and I deeply appreciate the leadership that the state has taken on issues touching upon matters of personal dignity", commented Tibbitts.

According to HREA's Director, Human Rights Bill 706 would strengthen the state's initial efforts to promote human rights learning in schools. In 1999, Massachusetts developed curricular frameworks to promote the teaching of genocide and human rights issues. Because of these frameworks, HREA can offer professional development trainings for Massachusetts educators in this area. The theme of human rights has been linked with the existing History and Social Science standards, as well as the Humanities standards. "We need to highlight this opportunity for teachers and support them in teaching human rights in the classroom", said Tibbitts.

Human rights education is increasingly recognized by educational authorities as a special feature of citizenship education. The National Educators Association has recently promoted human rights learning among its constituents. Idaho's Department of Social Studies has established the first state-wide scope and sequence for teachers that proposed lessons for concretely integrating human rights themes throughout their middle school and high school curriculum. The United Nations General Assembly in December 2004 voted in a permanent World Programme for Human Rights Education. The first three years of the program (2005-7) are focusing on HRE in primary and secondary schools.

Children are the global citizens of today and tomorrow and thus they need to have a clear grasp of the human rights framework - all the essential principles that can serve as a moral compass for how justice can be realized in the relationship between the state and its citizens. "What does it mean to be a citizen of Massachusetts today?", asks Tibbitts. "It means being a global citizen. Being a global citizen requires that our children become aware of our highest aspirations for human dignity - human rights - and the legal framework that supports this."

* More information about Human Rights Bill 706 can be found at the website of MassCEDAW.

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HREA is one of the leading organisations worldwide dedicated to education and training in and for human rights. Each year HREA trains hundreds of educators, human rights defenders and legal professionals around the world.

For further information, please contact:
Frank Elbers, Deputy Director. Tel: +1 617 301-4303.

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