Focus and research questions
The intention of this thesis is to explore the role Human Rights education (HRE) may play in the modern Russia. Taking the cultural-sociological approach to HRE as the analytical framework, the understanding of human rights as values is central in order to study HRE in the Russian context. Thus, the focus of the study is not the Russia’s responsibility, as a member of the Council of Europe, to integrate actively HRE into its educational policy. Rather to study HRE as a phenomenon, bringing new values: new interpretation of human rights into Russia. Three aspects, related to HRE, are to be studied: the Russian educational policy, Russian human rights culture and pedagogical tradition. All three are overlapping and necessary to be taken into the analysis in order to the reveal the process of HRE’s initiation in Russia more fully. The exploration of the main research problem: What role does HRE play in the modern Russia, is to be made with the help of three sub-questions. The first sub- question is: To what extent is HRE integrated into the Russian educational policy?Here the Russian educational policy documents will be examined in order to find out the way HRE is mentioned, eventually interpreted. Besides, general visions on education, its role and priorities are also of interest here. The second research question: What are the key characteristics of the Russian human rights culture? addresses the notions of mentality and values as the parts of the Russian human rights culture. The Russian philosophical thought is also taken as the contribution to the interpretation of the Russian values. The third research question: What is the connection between the Russian pedagogical tradition and HRE?investigates the traditions of the Russian pedagogy as the values communicating sphere. The character of the change from the Soviet to the Russian pedagogy is viewed as an important reference, related to the HRE’s integration into the educational system in Russia as well.
Methodology and data sources
The present study is an exploratory case study, aiming to reveal the role HRE plays in the modern Russian context. Thus, several hypotheses related to HRE and the modern Russia, are formulated. The hypotheses are about possible connection of HRE to the Russian: educational policy, human rights culture and pedagogical tradition. The methodological implications are discussed in chapter 2. The theoretical background of HRE, based on the literature review, as well as argumentation for the choice of the cultural –sociological approach to HRE is the content of the chapter 3. International organisations’ documents, concerning the HRE’s integration into the national educational policies (chapter 4) are presented in order to give a more concrete definition and interpretation of the notion of HRE. The analysis proceeds to the presentation of the Russian educational policy (chapter 4) in the form of the key policy documents. The presentations of the characteristics of the Russian human rights culture (chapter 5) and pedagogical tradition (chapter 6) are given on the background of the literature review and the research done earlier. The analysis of the pedagogical tradition and its change from Soviet to Russian is supported by the empirical data: the HRE project in one single Russian region and the Russian HRE experts’ views. The obtained empirical data is the result of the participant- observation and interviews.
Very clear and precise conclusions are difficult to make in an exploratory study. Still, more or less clear conclusions-implications are possible. The main conclusion is that HRE does play a role in the Russian modern context. Nevertheless, the role it plays should be regarded as expectations of stakeholders to HRE, or groups interested in the HRE’s initiation into the Russian educational and societal context. Answering the first sub-question, concerning the extent of the HRE’s integration into the Russian educational policy, the following has been found out: per today (year 2005) the extent of the integration can be described as little, HRE being at its initial stage. HRE is only on its way to become one the priorities, emphasized by the Russian educational policy. Firstly, the present focus on education as contributing to the creation of a national culture; and secondly, the fact, that HRE is mentioned only in one single document, originating not from the Russian Ministry of Education but another governmental body, and thus lacking the official status, supports the view on HRE as a new wave for Russia. Therefore it is only to speak about the role HRE may play in the modern Russia. Answering the second sub-question about the characteristics of the Russian human rights culture, ambivalence about values (collective versus individual) in the Russian society, and, in particular, ambivalence about human rights as values (Russian/true versus Western/alien) was found. In this sense HRE may play the role of the tool, bringing the interpretation of human rights as the individual values into the Russian society in a quite considerate and gentle manner. Via pedagogical practice. Answering the third sub-question about the connection between the Russian pedagogical tradition and HRE, it has been found, that HRE may be a continuation of humanisation of the pedagogical tradition, started in the perestroika period, as the urgent need of the abandonment of the communist ideology in education and the Soviet- doctrinal approach to the learning process. Thus, it can be finally concluded that HRE may play the role for the following stakeholders:
- The Russian society (macro-level) and an individual, the Russian citizen (micro-level)The Russian society, as getting the possibility to develop into the pluralistic and democratic society. The Russian citizen, as adjusting to the new realities (Russian and global) may appear (by discovering HRE) to be interested in the revival of the liberally- educated intelligentsia, the majority of which has been destroyed by the totalitarian Soviet rule (Lenin’s & Stalin’s Gulag), and the remaining representatives of which have chosen dissident destiny in the communist Soviet Union (1960-80s);
- The Russian school
that may happen to be affected not only by the humanist character of HRE’s content, but also by its methodology: active learning; respected position of a child and his/her social and cognitive creative potentials in the centre of the learning process.
- The Russian state and the Ministry of Education, Still, only as a long-term perspective. For, in case Ministry of Education, consisting of people, products of the changed by HRE school and society, may appear to be interested in the further integration of HRE into the educational policy. Then, it is the political and bureaucratic aspects that should be paid attention to, for they can be decisive factors concerning policy initiation and implementation.