Role of Education in the Protection and Promotion of Human rights


Zainab Musheer1*, Mohd Shakir2

1Research Scholar, Department of Education, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh-202002, U.P. (India)

2Assistant Professor, Department of Education, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh-202002, U.P. (India}



The present paper is an attempt to highlight the role of education in the protection of human rights and promotion of human rights awareness and there by emphasizing education as a pre requisite for the protection and promotion of human rights. Education is the pathway for the progress of any nation. It is through proper education, an individual gets aware about his rights and duties. It has potential to inculcate and imbibe human rights values. It is through education human rights are actually put into practice. Human rights are inherent to every person of the society by virtue of being human. It is one of the basic rights for survival. Human rights cannot be discriminated on the basis of nationality, residence, religion, race, status, language or any other consideration. They are indivisible and focus on the dignity of the individuals. National and international laws are there to protect them. No doubt education helps individuals to promote and protect their rights. If a person is educated, he/she is not vulnerable as far as his/her rights are concerned. He/She knows how to protect his/her rights.


KEYWORDS: Education, Rights, Human rights and Common Heritage.



Human rights are for all human beings, whatever nation, religion, race, status one belongs to. Every person is equally entitled to human rights without any discrimination. The term human right is described as the “common heritage” or “common language” of humanity. These are internationally protected rights and are no more exclusive “domestic jurisdiction” of the states. The Oxford Power Dictionary (1993) has defined human right as the basic freedom that all people should have. These rights emerge from the basic human needs and demands.  Laski (1940) defined “Human rights are necessary conditions of social life without which no one could become his best, to be himself holds good till date.” Human rights sometimes called as fundamental rights or basic rights or natural rights. Kashyap (1978) has defined human rights as those rights to which every man and woman residing in any part of the world is entitled by being human. Human rights are thus essential for dignified living and personality development.




Justice Durga Das Basu (1994) defines “Human rights are those minimal rights, which every individual must have against the State, or other public authority, by virtue of his being a ‘member of human family’ irrespective of any consideration.”


Thus it can be said that human rights are based on dignity and moral worth of a man. Human rights describe the norms and standards of human behaviour. They are considered to be universal and egalitarian.


Swami Vivekananda very truly said “If faith in ourselves had been more extensively taught and practiced, I am sure a very large portion of the evils and miseries that we have would have vanished.” This statement clearly carries the message that a man must be truthful and benevolent toward one self, and also towards the other human being, which will generate respect for mankind thus leading towards a peaceful coexistence in the society. 


Human rights help in creating a body of values and norms for human dignity, equality, non-discrimination. The right of an individual is very much essential for leading a happy and prosperous life. If the political and education system of a country is good, it could help in protecting and promoting the human rights. When these rights are denied on any ground then it has given rise to political and social unrest, putting countries into very dangerous situations.


Fig. 1: Characteristics of Human rights


Need of human rights education in India:

Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of United Nations, said that “without education we cannot view the global reality of independence. Education is necessary for realizing and sharing hopes of different religion and races.”

In a democratic country like India human rights are put under the guarantee of law and thus their protection becomes the responsibility of the government. Therefore it is the responsibility of the Nation that no citizen should be deprived of his basic human rights.


Human rights are necessary for peaceful coexistence democracy. In India number of cases of human rights violation can be witnessed like trafficking, exploitation of women, religious violations and caste related issues.  There is a proper need for the promotion and protection of human rights to avoid human rights violation. Education imparts necessary skills for the promotion and protection of human rights education. It is essential to impart proper education to avoid human rights violations. The foundation of human rights education are love, kindness, peace and compassion which are also the basic essence of all religions.


Role of National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) in the protection of Human Rights:

NHRC is a government agency formed on 12 October 1993, which is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights. It relates to the rights of individual liberty, equality and dignity. Human rights are not static; they keep on changing from time to time. NHRC enquires into human rights violation complaints. It helps in spreading human right awareness. It also reviews human rights laws and order and for effective implementation of these laws. It depends on other agencies like Supreme Court and High Court for securing and protecting the rights of people.


Universal declaration of human rights:

The Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR) was formulated by the UN Commission on Human rights chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt. It was adopted by the 56 member nations of the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948.  December 10 is celebrated as international human rights Day all over the world.  The 192 member of United Nation., agreed to educate their citizens on the principles of the UDHR.


Article 1 of Universal declaration of human rights states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Human rights form the basic fundamental right that a person cannot be denied by any individual or any government. These rights are for everyone and universal. Under international human rights law, states are obliged to ensure universal free and compulsory primary education and to ensure that secondary and technical/vocational education and higher education are generally available, accessible and progressively free. United Nation had declared the year 1995 to 2004 as the decade of human rights education. The main objective of this was building and strengthening for human rights education capacities at international, regional, national and also at local levels.


Human rights Awareness:

The main objective of human rights education is to promote respect and develop values, knowledge and skills for human rights among all individuals. It helps in nourishing friendship among different nations and eliminates any form of discrimination. Thus, it is the responsibility of both the citizen as well as the nation to impart proper awareness about the rights that an individual cherishes and how he could claim to the higher authority, if any of his rights is being violated. Awareness of human rights is considered helpful for better protection and promotion of human rights. Both NGOs and state agencies are playing an equally important role in this task. If citizens are not allowed to exercise their rights freely, it will definitely be the violation of their human rights. Human rights awareness is necessary for global peace and stability.


Role of education in strengthening and awareness of human rights:

Human rights are inherited by human beings irrespective of nationality, place of residence, gender, colour, religion, language and any other consideration.  Education plays a significant role for strengthening and protection of human rights. It is an important tool in spreading awareness, information assimilation, creation and dissemination of knowledge. In 1993 World Conference on Human rights at Vienna laid much emphasis on imparting the principles of human rights through proper education (Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action 1993).


This responsibility can be shouldered by teachers in the education system. A good teacher not only imparts knowledge but also motivates and inspires his students. A good teacher is one who makes his students aware regarding their rights, duties and responsibilities, as teachers must be trained regarding human rights pedagogy, so that they could further direct their students about the same and the process must go on.


Human rights were basically founded on the ground respect for the dignity and worth of each person; inalienable, indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. An educationist must know the skills needed to strengthen human rights. Education plays an important role in helping an individual to create an ideal human life.  It is education which helps people not only in increasing the literacy level but also by helping people in recognising their rights. Thus, core of human rights education is to strengthen and promote human rights. One of the flaws related with human rights is the absence of enforcement mechanism as people are not aware of their rights.


Fig 2 depicts if rights of an educated person are being violated he can claim to the court or other higher authority as he knows what to do in such situations. Whereas Fig3 shows if human rights of an illiterate person are violated, he does not know what to do thus will lead to suffering, ignorance and darkness, making him more vulnerable.



Fig. 2: Education helps in claiming Human rights


Fig. 3: Illiteracy will lead to Ignorance and Sufferings


Indian Constitution and Human rights:

The Indian Constitution is a very rich document in human rights jurisprudence. The laws in Indian Constitutions play a very significant role in the promotion of human rights. It forms an elaborate charter on human rights. Let us see some of them:


Article 14 states about equality before the law. The state shall not deny any person equality before law or the equal protection of law within the territory of India.

This article means that no person is above law, every man, whatever is his/her status, is equal in the eyes of the law. Equality here is not just a legal term but more practical and sensible term. In the light of this article the government of India has made special provisions for juvenile delinquents, differently abled, senior citizens, women and children. Our constitution has emphasised measures for human rights protection. Proper education will help people in claiming of their rights if they are being violated.


Article 15 prohibits discrimination on ground of religion, race, caste, gender, and place of birth.


No citizen on any ground can be restricted from entering at a public place like hotels, shops and places of public entertainment. The use of wells, tanks, roads are dedicated for the use of general public and no one can restrain them from using.


In 2016-17 human rights report compiled by Amnesty International reported that 56,000 crimes were committed against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. In the year 2016 a Dalit student committed suicide complaining to discrimination and abuses due to his caste. After this incident Dalit students peacefully protested nationwide asking government to protect their rights. They were only able to fight for their rights because they were educated and knew what their rights were and how to claim them.


Article 16 claims equality of opportunity in matter of public employment.


State cannot discriminate anyone in the matter of employment. All citizens can apply for government job, provided that they are eligible for the post. It ensures equality of opportunity when it comes to public employment. It also allows the state to make reservation for schedule caste and Schedule tribe; these provisions cannot be considered discriminatory.


Article 17 abolishes the practice of Untouchability. Practicing untouchability is completely abolished and forbidden. It is an offence and anyone practicing so is punishable. This act says that everything is open for the members of schedule castes. Any person who is being stopped at entering ay place due to his caste can knock court.


In the State of Karnataka, Appa Bala Ingale fighted for justice under Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955. In this case the lower caste people were threatened with gun to show their social disability. Social disability identifies negative attitudes and exclusion by society. Supreme Court in this case convicted the respondents. They were educated therefore they fought for their rights.


Article 19 provides freedom to speak freely, to move freely in any part of the country, and to carry any occupation according to ones choice.


Right to Information emerges as the prerequisite for Article 19. The primary objective of this article is to protect certain rights regarding freedom of speech and expressions. A proper education is necessary to claim this right; it will tell us what to speak, where to speak and how person cannot be stopped from speaking and expressing himself while equally respecting the laws of the country.


In 1985 a case was fought between India Express vs Union of India. India express was fighting for the freedom of expression of press media as a fundamental right. In this case Indian expressed claimed that they are being stopped from spreading the truth to the masses by the government and it is the abolition of their basic rights. They fought for justice and won the case.


Article 21 guarantees right to life and personal liberty.

A person deprived of his personal liberty can claim the right to life and personal liberty. The right to life and personal liberty is undoubtfully one of the most essential and fundamental rights for survival.

In the year 1997, a case was held and it was it declared by the court that a person cannot be regarded as medically unfit and denied employment merely on the ground that he is HIV positive. So his education became his tool to attain his rights.


Article 23 strictly prohibits human trafficking and forced labour. 


Article 24 speaks about prohibition of labour in case of children below 14 years.

Article 23 and 24 of Indian Constitution deals with the right against exploitation. It is one of the most vital rights. These rights help at protecting people from environment, domestic and work hazards. No child below the age of 14 years can be employed. It is the time to attain education which is free and compulsory for all children from 6 to 14 years of age group.


In 1996 Supreme court in their judgment enlisted direction for elimination of Child Labour which included survey for identification of working children, withdrawal of children from hazardous industry and to make sure children involved in non-hazardous activity should not be working more than six hours as there school timing should not suffer.


Article 25 justifies freedom to practice any religion.


Article 26 helps in managing religious affair with complete freedom.

India is a secular country. No one can stop any person from practicing his religion. A man is free to wear turban, to keep beard. An educated person knows very well that if any person stops him from practicing his religion, he can go to the court to get relief.

Article 30 provides right to minorities to administer their own educational institutions.

This article assures the protection of rights of the religious and ethnic minorities. It is the provision that ensures preservation of minorities’ rights. Besides safeguarding the rights of minorities, it also provide right to establish educational institute of their choice.


Article 32 provides right to every individual to move to the Supreme Court directly in case of violation of any of his fundamental rights.


Dr.B.R.Ambedkar has rightly called the Article 32 as the soul of the constitution. This article claims that a person can move directly to the Supreme Court if any of his rights is being violated.


Case Study- A highly famous Golaknath case, Supreme Court ruled out that Parliament cannot curtail any of Fundamental rights of individuals mentioned in the Constitution. It was a landmark case between Indian Judiciary and Legislature regarding the amenability of the Constitution. The Golaknath brothers’ lands were acquired by the Punjab government under the Punjab Land Law. The brothers approached the apex court under violation of Article32 challenging the Punjab State law depriving them from their Fundamental Right to Property. It was only possible because they had knowledge about their rights and they were educated.


Article 45 talks about provision for free and compulsory education of children up to 14 years of age.

RTE is an act of Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which describe the importance of free and compulsory education 6 to 14 years of age. This act makes education a fundamental right. A Human rights based approach of education ensures that quality education is being provided to every child that would help him in promoting and protecting his individual rights.


Amnesty International report claimed that just after a year of implementation of RTE, over 10,000 cases were registered of violation of child’s right body in Delhi. There were few who were denied admission and some were denied the benefit of the economically weaker section quota. An educated person knows what his rights are and he could even help others in claiming their rights.


Article 46 ensures education and economic development of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other weaker sections of society.

In case of any discrimination by fellow students or other staffs report can be filled.


According to the Amnesty International report 2015-16 around 56,000 crimes were committed against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in 2015. These included denying Dalits entry into public and social spaces, according to the report.



Thus, it is visible that education plays a crucial role for the strengthening and protecting of human rights.  Education is a tool that could stop violation against human rights. Education must be imparted to each and every individual so that they could also understand the importance of human rights.  Teachers must aware students about their fundamental rights and how to claim them when it is being violated. A number of cases are witnessed where education and awareness of human rights have helped people in claiming their rights from which they were being violated.  Promotion and protection of human rights had its impact in widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots of the society, both at the international and national levels. Education is an important weapon to eliminate various kinds of ignorance. It is the responsibility of every educated citizen to carry the responsibility of promotion and protection of human rights on their shoulders to prevail over the present day maladies of the country.



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Received on 05.08.2017

Modified on 29.08.2017

Accepted on 12.09.2017

© A&V Publications all right reserved

Research J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 8(3): July- September, 2017, 379-384.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2017.00055.9