Institute News

New Ukrainian Teachers’ Resource Guide and Seminar Offers Multimedia Approach to Teaching Human Rights

A three-day seminar will be held November 22-24 in Kyiv to train Ukrainian teachers of social sciences and humanities, university tutors of law and human rights activists on the use of a new multimedia teacher’s guide titled Where do Human Rights Begin: History and Contemporary Approaches.

The seminar will be conducted within the framework of the educational program of the same title, initiated by USC Shoah Foundation in cooperation with VAAD, the association of Jewish organizations and communities of Ukraine.  The project and the publication were supported by the German Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ)’s “Teaching Human Rights” program.

The comprehensive multimedia teacher’s guide was approved by Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science in November 2013, and authored by educator Oleksandr Voytenko, historian Mikhail Tyagly and human rights education specialist Serhiy Burov. The guide features a video component on DVD consisting of excerpts of testimonies of survivors of totalitarian regimes from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, and testimonies of forced labor victims from EVZ’s “Forced Labor 1939-1945: Memory and History” archive.

Where do Human Rights Begin: Lessons of History and Contemporary Approaches consists of 10 modules highlighting the rights guaranteed by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with historical reviews of human rights violations in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR and also analyses of recent cases from the European Court of Human Rights. The guide is designed for secondary school teachers across a variety of disciplines, including history, law, civic education, and psychology, as well as specialized civics courses for pre-service and in-service education, seminars for university students and extracurricular activities. School principals, NGO activists, parents and other interested readers will also find the guide valuable and relevant to their work.

“The task of historical essays presented in the teacher’s guide is to show teachers how various totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century, mostly Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union, were similar in their quest for the reconstruction of societies according to race and class principles and the use of violence in accomplishing these goals —both resulting in complete denial of the value of human life and systematic violation of fundamental human rights,” Tyagly said.

 “The use of complementary archival sources in the teacher’s guide – video testimonies in particular — demonstrates an innovative approach in the field of national education,” the Ukraine Ministry of Education and Science said in its review of the guide. “Materials of personal nature produce both informational and pedagogical effect, reinforcing evaluative, motivational, and action-building components of the target audience.”

The seminar in Kyiv marks an important first step in a training model based on the use of multipliers.  Following this session, attending teachers will each conduct a minimum of two training sessions in their home regions. Through this structure, the program expects to reach between 1,200-1,500 teachers nationally.

“It is only when we are outside the abstract texts of legal norms and can discern a concrete person that we begin to understand the importance of these norms and apply them in practice,” Voytenko said. “Human rights are not simply the values that are protected by law—they represent, above all, the ability to feel secure and the conditions necessary for one’s self-realization.”

“This is an innovative and unique resource that uses the voices of the past, primary documents and current issues to provide teachers with the resources to deepen students’ understanding of the causes and consequences of the violations of human rights,” said Kori Street, Director of Education for USC Shoah Foundation. “If they are going to engage responsibly and respectfully in society today, sources such as this one will help them build the understanding, empathy and knowledge to recognize and combat violations of human rights – large and small – and engage responsibly in society.”

Seminar attendees will include teachers, methodology specialists, university tutors at law departments, NGOs and student youth educators serving grades 10-11.

USC Shoah Foundation recorded 3,472 testimonies in Ukraine, and 10,000 interviewees were born within Ukraine’s current borders. The Institute has produced four multimedia resources for Ukrainian teachers about the Holocaust and Ukrainian history and hosted educational programming for thousands of local educators.

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