Our Role Within Rights-Based Education and Development

BlogPic_Natalia CabraThe UN Brundtland Report of 1987, also known as Our Common Future, from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development defined Sustainable Development as: “the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own basic needs.” This development requires that these needs are met for every human being in order to reach a better life, for each individual operates as the main resource for each nation.

This principle of development can only be ensured if the state supports measures developing the potential of all individuals. Education is a basic measure which the government should support, because education nurtures the innate curiosity in human beings.  The provision of education should be fundamental and unquestioned.  There is a public necessity for an individual’s conscience regarding his or her knowledge and awareness of human rights to be further developed in education.

Alejandro Vargas Berrueta’s article on Human Rights Protection shows that a lack of education on human rights in Latin America limits access to justice and leads to dangerous ambivalence in the legal system. The article reveals three obstacles which restrict people’s access to justice and to prevent state recognition of their dignity. The first obstacle is a denial that the person is the subject of human rights. The human person, inviolably and intrinsically in possession of his or her dignity, stands at the center of all human rights. No one can control which rights to give or take away from a person. The human person is the subject of those rights and stands at the center of them.  The second obstacle is the lack of resources for hiring a lawyer to advocate on behalf of an individual.  The third obstacle is the public’s growing skepticism  of appropriate protection by the state.

In its attempt to surmount these obstacles, the Mexican State took action. The Constitutional Reform of June 2011 added in Article 3, second paragraph of the Constitution of the United States of Mexico, that: “The education provided by the State tends to develop harmoniously all the faculties of man and promote, at once, the love of the state, respect for human rights and awareness of international solidarity, in independence and justice.”

This amendment highlights a respect for values and for education on human rights as the basis for Mexican education. This respect for human rights education is also stipulated in international treaties.

A proper understanding of human rights is impossible without an education that promotes and believes in the potential of the human person to be an innovator of solutions.  In other words, we must elevate the human role as described in the World Youth Alliance’s Statement on Health and Sustainable Development which recognizes that the UN’s post 2015 development agenda must respond to the authentic needs of the person and that the flourishing of the human must act as both the starting point and ultimate goal of all sustainable development efforts.

We should also recognize every man and woman as key actors who sustain the task of building the future,  achieving their own fulfillment, and participating in advocacy with respect for all the cultural, historical, and social environments which they encounter. A proper education gives us the tools to develop our collective personality in the best way possible, and allows for optimal participation in societies. Furthermore, this strengthens the respect between nations and communities and enforce each one of us to act as promoters of equity and human dignity.

By Natalia Cabra, a WYA Member from Colombia and former WYA Latin America Intern