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Armenian Human Rights School (AHRS) Advanced Human Rights Course of the Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre (ACRPC) NGO
Posted on 25 Aug 2010 by:
Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre [NGO]


Location: Vanadzor

Topic: Human Rights

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Introduction
The Armenian Human Rights School (AHRS) was established in 1996 and is a strategic direction of the Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre (ACRPC) NGO. AHRS works in collaboration with the National Institute of Education of the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia.

The Professional Development Programme is intended to enhance the human rights educational knowledge and teaching skills of Armenian educators responsible for teaching ┐Human Rights┐, ┐Civic Education┐, ┐State and Law┐ and ┐Ethics┐ subjects of the social sciences curriculum for grades 8-10 (students aged 14-18).
Methodology used
The Collaborative Teaching Method (CTM) is the main methodology, which has an essential advantage over the Common Front teaching method: in particular, Tact, Rivin┐s Direct and Reverse, Thematic Co-transfer, Individual Co-checking Cards and other methods of the Collaborative Teaching are applied.
Techniques and strategies used
The duration of the study process at AHRS for Social Sciences teachers is one year. It includes 30-day intensive (one 20-day and two 7-day sessions) and 11-month distance learning stages.
The programme has been formulated based on the ┐State Conception and Programs of Social Sciences┐ for Secondary schools, school text-books of the legal components of social sciences, the ┐Human Rights┐ manual for teachers and teaching taken from real life, with discussions of practical examples.

20-day intensive session:
The session begins with 2 days of orientation and thought-provoking and engrossing activities.
With the help of a coordinating panel, which is structured around individual learning plans, the initiative of learners and course assistants, the learning process for each course participant is calculated using CTM.
The session is not interrupted by tea or coffee breaks. Instead, tea, coffee and sweets can always be found in the classrooms, and each learner is free to take a break whenever he/she needs. Common break is set only for lunch.
2 days are spent for organising excursions, the aforementioned activities and competitions, which, in turn, contribute to the effective learning process for participants, as well as to the formulation of law-based attitudes.
In the middle of the session, an informative task to facilitate the learning process is organised.
Leading on from information accumulated on the last day of the 20-day session┐s working plan, an individual assignment plan is made for each learner. The plan contains those particular subjects, which the learner has only partially assimilated or has not yet managed to study.
On the last two days of the session teachers and school directors are invited.
On the last day of the session, each course participant organises and conducts a lesson on his/her own. During the last 2 days of the session, the directors of these schools are also invited to participate in the session.

7-day sessions:
The 7-day sessions are organised in the same way.
At the end of the second 7-day session, a closing assignment is organised which includes discussions of certain situations and components of evaluation and effectiveness.
At the end of the 20-day and 7-day intensive sessions, teachers are provided with manuals, appropriate literature, posters, thematic planning forms, tests and other necessary materials.

Distance learning:
The duration of distance learning is 11 months. Throughout the learning process, 1-2 days of academic sessions are organised using CTM, which include individual planning forms.
The learners, by making use of ACRPC Human rights libraries (HRL) as resource centres, continue to assimilate curriculum topics while teaching at secondary schools, by applying the same methodology as well as organising discussions of real-life human rights education (HRE) and human rights situations with pupils. They organise HRE youth clubs, HRL readers┐ councils, as well as participate in discussions about ACRPC publications: the legal sciences review For the Sake of Justice and the newspaper Legal Culture, corresponding with these publications.
Learners send their completed individual assignments to AHRS trainers. The trainers either approve them or make recommendations and remarks.
The learners are involved in HRE national network forum discussions and experience exchange conferences.
The HRE national network forum also acts as a tool for the distance-learning process, where teachers can share experience, information or queries with other course participants, AHRS graduates and experts to find solutions.
During the distance learning period, monitoring and evaluation visits are made to the schools of AHRS course participants. Participants are awarded certificates on the basis of pupils┐ knowledge of human rights, showing the true transfer of knowledge and a change in attitudes.
Implementation methodologies
Within the framework of the CTM, the learning process is organised in a way that each course participant is given the opportunity to learn and teach independently, to assimilate the academic material by discussing it with his/her partner in the group.

Each course participant is given the following opportunities:
┐ each student takes as much time as needed to learn one issue or topic.
┐ full participation in educational productive work
┐ development of collaboration skills
┐ the participant acts both as a learner and a teacher at the same time.

1. The course runs with the help of the Coordinating Panel, which is managed on a computer by a trainer-coordinator who is in charge of the whole teaching process.

2. The trainer-coordinator marks the levels of the participants┐ knowledge according to their work and checks the groups.

3. Various subgroups differ from each other in staff, working style and goal, and content of the teaching material. After having worked in a subgroup for a while, each learner leaves, having received his/her assignment from the Coordinating Panel and, with the new assignment, make a new subgroup with another learner, or joins an already working subgroup.
During the distance-learning period and after completion of the course, evaluation and monitoring visits will be undertaken schools to observe, assess and support; teachers┐ assessment in accordance with pupils┐ progress.
What is innovative about this approach/tool/project?
The programme takes place over the course of a year and allows for extended learning in relation to human rights topics. The independent, self-paced approach facilitates the mastering of contact at the learner┐s preferred pace.

To ensure the successful completion of the one-year training programme and its application in the classroom, there is a rigorous intake process which requires headteachers to sign a ┐contract┐ committing their teachers to the programme. In addition, headteachers are asked to guarantee that teachers will have the opportunity to teach the subjects in question for at least 2 years following conclusion of the training.

AHRS┐s training programme has been labelled as unique in Armenia and instrumental in preparing its graduates to teach human rights in schools. Many teachers who have completed the programme have extended their involvement in human rights issues outside the classroom.

In its commitment to raise the level of legal awareness in Armenia, ACRPC provides teachers and community members with other services through seminars, publications and its Human Rights Library Network (HRLN). The network consists of human rights libraries in the towns of Vanadzor, Sevan, Hrazdan, Gavar, Artashat and Dilijan, covering 5 Armenian regions.

The programme is carried out in collaboration with the National Institute of Armenia┐s Ministry of Education and Science. Graduates from the human rights training programme are required to teach ┐Human Rights┐, ┐Civic Education┐ and ┐State and Law┐ and Ethics┐ subjects for 2 years following completion of the course.
Evidence of results and impact
AHRS' professional development practices have been included in the Human Rights Education in the School Systems of Europe, Central Asia and North America: A Compendium of Good Practice, including citizenship education and education for mutual respect and understanding, which was published in October 2009 by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNESCO, OSCE ODIHR and the Council of Europe in coordination with Human Rights Education Associates (HREA).

In a 2008 evaluation of ACRPC, an external evaluator said that: ┐┐with an average of 420 pupils per teacher, approximately 150,000 pupils have benefitted from AHRS during the past 5 years, which is approximately 6% of the Armenian Population.┐ (Mr. Rob Watson, Evaluation of the Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre, Re-evaluation of the Armenian Human Rights School focusing on the effectiveness of training, November 2008, http://www.acrpc.am/downloads/re_evaluation_report.pdf, pg. 6-7).
Costs associated with project development and/or implementation
The AHRS One-Year Advanced Human Rights Course costs about ┐25,000 to run.
Additional Information
For more information on AHRS please visit the ACRPC website: www.acrpc.am
For any questions please feel free to contact ACRPC at acrpc@acrpc.am

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