HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL? Discrepancies of Knowledge and the Realization of Power via Human Rights Education Pedagogies within Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa
Hayat, Esther Ariel
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During the summer of 2014 I was part of the Straight Talk Foundation team as a Training and Development intern. The Straight Talk Foundation (STF) in Uganda, an award-winning HIV/AIDs prevention organization, seeks to contribute to positive youth development in Uganda by educating primary and secondary school students on STDs/STIs, HIV/AIDs, teenage pregnancy, life skills, romantic relationships, and the importance of an education. The insight and commitment of the Straight Talk Foundation staff led me to try to understand the discrepancies between their intentions and the reality of implementing child rights programing. Human rights activists believe educating youth on their inherent human rights will enable youth to uphold beneficial sexual reproductive health practices and claim their rights to an academic education. However, those who are fortunate enough to receive this human rights education, find themselves enlightened without the means to empower themselves and communities in fueling sustainable change. The first chapter explores the historical development of international human rights doctrines and human rights-based education networks within Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the inability to realized one’s inherent rights within such programing. The second chapter explores the history of education in Uganda, spanning missionary presence to current universal education programing, and the inaccessible schooling and unrealized promises of security for the future. The third chapter explores moral guidelines recommended by STF contradicted the working and survival skills that Ugandan youth had created, within indigenous education models, sexual transactional relationships, and living on the streets. I have found that the intention of raising awareness and creating positive change among youth via human rights-based education is not universally attainable and is inhibited by depoliticizing international organizations and under-resourced governmental, social service, and educational systems. The influence of international development actors defines universalized child rights rhetoric within Ugandan NGOs in spite of its inability to be realized within and informed by local settings. The information provided by international organizations and national NGOs alike, however, are not static forms of knowledge but are actually produced and reproduced within the contexts local settings.