Reflections on human rights education from the orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) sector in Mozambique

Cora Burnett - Cogent Social Sciences

Abstract: Human Rights Education (HRE) often forms the cornerstone of addressing human rights issues at the local level where nongovernmental bodies in partnership with human rights agencies deliver various initiatives. Such agencies mostly operate from a neo-colonial framework as addressing structural and political power struggles limits addressing structural transformation for most vulnerable populations. There is a gap in the existing literature about the sense-making of such roles and responsibilities related to a local agency that speaks to active citizenship and youth as agents of change. This paper examines the effects of HRE associated with Freire’s emancipatory education on youth in the impoverished community of Trevo in Mozambique. Within this impoverished community, orphans and vulnerable youth makes up one of the lowest socio-economic strata that was targeted as the research population for this study. The research question addresses how such vulnerable youth make sense of HRE and how do they apply the learnings in an authentic and realistic way. A local nongovernment organisation (NGO) implemented the Bons Vizinhos (Good Neighbours) programme where children and youth received human rights’ training. Three executive members, two implementers and six youth took part in semi-structured interviews (primary data), whilst 21 posters from youth as part of a photo-voice activity were re-interpreted and thematically categorised (secondary data). Vulnerable populations socially construct their understandings of what they consider “safe” and “unsafe” spaces. HRE practitioners need to draw on these insights to make learning meaningful.