n African Human Rights Law Journal - Human rights education in South Africa : whose responsibility is it anyway?

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



The enjoyment of human rights largely depends on the level of awareness of what these rights are and how to enforce them. Human rights education (HRE), therefore, is crucial in ensuring that people are empowered to access the rights to which they are entitled. There have been several programmes and plans of action aimed at HRE at international level, but 20 years after the advent of a new democratic and constitutional dispensation in South Africa, the level of public awareness in the country is still, unfortunately, inadequate. It is against this background that the roles and responsibilities of the main role players in HRE in South Africa are discussed and, where possible, assessed. This analysis is important, because without an understanding of all available infrastructure and the main actors involved in HRE, it is impossible to identify gaps or to make recommendations for future improvements. The role of government, human rights institutions, such as the South African Human Rights Commission, and non-state actors, such as nongovernmental organisations and other civil society formations, are reviewed, after a presentation of background information on conceptual issues, the international dimension of HRE, and HRE in Africa. Recommendations for increased involvement in HRE - especially by government - are made. It is recommended that the state play a more dominant role in HRE, because it has the resources and the obligation and responsibility to do so.

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