“The maiden voyage of the HRS Human Rights School”

It’s a new year and a new wave of human rights defenders have committed themselves to being Youth Human Rights Peer Educators to further promote a peaceful and harmonious Africa. However, this year is unique, it is the pilot of the Human Rights School, which takes place over 6 days.

From the 1st to the 6th of April 2022, Africa Unite hosted its Human Rights School. The training was held at the Goedgedacht Olive farm which is located 85.5km North-East of Cape Town, South Africa.

Human Rights Squares, a game created to engage participants and their knowledge of Human Rights.

The training took place at the end of the South African national state of disaster and is also the first all provinces were represented at the training. This year saw a decrease in the total amount of peer educators trained nationally with 5 representatives from Gauteng, 5 from KwaZulu-Natal, and 6 from Cape Town with an additional 6 from various African countries. The training included a diverse group of youth from across the African continent, from a group of 23 young people (12 females and 11 males) of the 17 South African participants, 4 were originally from outside of the country (France, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the Africa exchange program saw participants from Cameroon, South Sudan, Kenya and the Kingdom of eSwatini, which adds to the diverse group of cultures, languages, and experiences to the week and training. The purpose of the training was to capacitate young people from different backgrounds with knowledge and necessary skills in Human Rights for them to become Youth Human Rights Peer Educators in their respective communities and countries.

During this 6-day training, the facilitators covered the following content:

Human Rights Principles

Human Rights Education: What and Why?

Instruments protecting Human Rights locally and globally.

The rights of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, women, children, elderly people, refugees, migrants, etc).

How to build Human Rights Communities.

How to facilitate human rights information sessions in various communities and countries.

Community Conflict Mediation

Socio-political context and movement building

How to run an event and the journey of a successful Peer Educator

In addition to this, we had a meeting on challenges facing young people in their respective communities and how young people could help bring solutions.

During the training, the youth were divided into 4 countries namely, (1) Rwanda, (2) South Africa, (3) the Democratic Republic of Congo, and (4) eSwatini. Most of their group work was done according to the above country groups. One of the highlights of the weekend training was the mock African Union assemblies where each country group was invited to make a presentation under the following indicators: (1) a brief history of the country, (2) current political issues, (3) socio-economic and cultural dynamics, (4) The resources of the Country and (5) In case they win, how each country intends to use the $500 billion donations in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

After different presentations were done by the President of each country, the Democratic Republic of Congo took the prize due to their highly creative presentation and their proposed use of the winnings, teamwork, and well-informed presentation of the country they represented. eSwatini came in a very close 2nd.

Group 3 preparing for their presentation

To mimic the traditional winning procedure, the group members were issued a mock cheque of $500 billion as well as a suitcase containing the funds for aid to their country. Nonetheless, the purpose of this activity was not just to highlight the importance of teamwork, but rather to also allow our youth to research and understand the political and socio-economic background of each African country. A background which we stress all Africans to familiarise themselves with.

Furthermore, during these 6-days, the facilitators used simulation activities and role-playing which made the youth reflect on their attitudes and behavior on how they interact with others. The youth participants were highly motivated on how they can go back to their respective communities/countries and disseminate the knowledge they have acquired during the training in their own families, communities, places of worship, universities, youth groups, and other appropriate places. The various groups proceeded to simulate conflict research and community profiling.

Participants enjoying free time

Although the youth were from different backgrounds, they were excited about the levels of interaction, the content of the training, and the skills which were gained throughout the week.

The four groups from Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and the Africa exchange program committed to tackling social issues such as teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, xenophobia, and Gender-based violence, respectively, by engaging, educating, and equipping their communities with the knowledge gained from the training. The two groups also planned and proposed ways to raise funds and which stakeholders to partner with.

Overall, the youth made a clear commitment to go back to their respective communities and countries and to conduct similar information sessions. Young people thanked Africa Unite for this great opportunity and promised to use it to sensitize other young people to join them.

Human Rights School, Class of 2022

About lylerb2

Human Rights Development officer at Africa Unite, Pan Africanist, Christian and avid adventurer
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