It is closely linked to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and the humanitarian imperative that includes the right to give and receive humanitarian assistance. Through the exploration of humanitarian action it encourages students to recognise that everyone has the right to the necessary basics that sustain life and maintain human dignity.
Humanitarian organisations like the British Red Cross and the wider movement work to ensure the provision of those basic needs in conflict, disasters, emergencies and health crises. These fields of operation help identify the broad themes addressed by humanitarian education.
Those educators that explore an issue, event or topic through a humanitarian perspective should approach it by asking ‘is there human suffering that can be reduced by humanitarian action and, does that response fall within those broad themes that cover the areas of operation of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement?’ However only educators that are members of the movement are encouraged to stay within the limits set by the areas within which it operates.
The way in which educators explore with students any topic, issue or event must be within the framework of the principles of humanity and impartiality. It does not directly address causes and deliberately avoids exploring political, religious, social class, nationality, economic, environmental or other factors that might contribute to or create a crisis. This should not rule out encouraging students and educators to understand the context within which humanitarian action will take place, in fact acknowledging them can help ensure that humanitarian assistance is neutral, as well as impartial.
The central notion of our shared humanity also requires that it addresses and promotes diversity and equality as essential to providing impartial and neutral humanitarian assistance. Encouraging those who help others, to respond appropriately, without making assumptions of the needs of the recipients and of their life experiences. It actively avoids perpetuating barriers to people receiving appropriate humanitarian assistance including racism, homophobia, disability, and other forms of discrimination that can create notions of deserving or undeserving. And this desire to reduce the barriers to humanitarian action adds the promotion of diversity and equality as a theme for humanitarian educators alongside, conflict, disasters and emergencies and health.
Although humanitarian education originates from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement it goes beyond teaching people about the work of the organisation and other aid or development NGOs. It recognises the limits of charitable giving and that people caught in a crisis are initially supported by those around them, and it encourages individuals to respond directly, with others, to the humanitarian needs that arise.
It has two broad objectives; that people confronted by humanitarian need recognise that those affected have a right to assistance. And aims to contribute to the development of the skills that help individuals be more resilient and able to respond appropriately in a crisis.
The British Red Cross’s humanitarian education programme has a number of elements including direct work with young people, in workshops, lessons and other activities often led by other young people as peer educators. It also helps teachers address humanitarian issues in the classroom by providing topical and authoritative resources. The programme helps build teachers’ confidence and ability, through professional development, to address humanitarian issues in the classroom. It encourages educational authorities to address humanitarian issues across the curricula for example by successfully arguing for the inclusion of International Humanitarian Law in the English curriculum.
Humanitarian Education can fit into the curricula in formal and informal education, and is best thought of as a form of education for citizenship. Within the formal schools structure, education aspires to provide students with a sound knowledge base and the skills that enable them to interpret and respond to the world around them.
British Red Cross Founded in 1870 the British Red Cross is one of 186 national societies of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Each national society works in its own country based on the principles of international humanitarian law and the statutes of the international Movement.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Founded in 1919 it co-ordinates the work of national societies in providing relief assistance and responding to large-scale emergencies.
International Committee of the Red Cross Is a private humanitarian institution founded in Geneva in 1863. It has a unique authority under international humanitarian law to protect life and the dignity of the victims of international and internal armed conflicts.
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