Why is investment in Digital Human Rights Education Important?

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a clear need to focus on Human Rights Education in the digital space. Because there has been an increase in the number of human rights violations in the digital space, it has also been necessary to provide HRE online – as a mechanism through which young people will build their capacities to act online, either by preventing human rights violations or claiming their rights. On the other hand, as young people spend more and more time online, there is a need to transfer and provide more HRE online. The latter situation has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdown measures, which have significantly increased the amount of time young people spend online.

Before the actual start of the COVID-19 pandemic, actors in formal education were investing in building platforms and methods to ensure the availability of online and distance education. Many stakeholders in the non-formal education sector, on the other hand, at first tried to preserve in-person methods and attempted to simply copy-paste in-person non-formal education (NFE) to the online space during the COVID-19 pandemic. Significant number of them, however, encountered difficulties in doing so.

Delivering Human Rights (Non-Formal) Education can be more challenging than delivering other kinds of education. This is especially true because HRE is based on a set of methodological approaches and principles. These principles were already developed and standardized for in-person activities and made available through a collection of learning activities presented in various educational materials.

In 2020, all across Europe, ad-hoc solutions were employed to move trainings and workshops online, which were not prepared to meet NFE standards and frequently failed to fully achieve their aims or ended up being more formal than sessions provided by formal education institutions.

According to a 2021 CONNECT survey, digital skills to adapt to new IT trends are a continual challenge for 23.3 percent of youth organizations and a challenge at times for 43.4 percent of respondents. 57.2 percent, in particular, want to increase their digital capabilities for delivering non-formal education.

Due to its prior field experience, CONNECT International was one of the few organizations that enthusiastically welcomed this transformation, and together with its members, it has been tirelessly exploring ways to deploy digital tools and innovation more efficiently in youth work, particularly when delivering Human Rights Education online, to ensure that digital infrastructure is used meaningfully and to the benefit of young people.

The materials in front of you were created through an analysis of the current situation in the development and implementation of online Human Rights (Non-Formal) Education and further explored through two regional events conducted within the Educ@ate!-a project implemented by Connect International with the financial support of the European Youth Foundation.