A redesigned material repository for democratic citizenship and human rights education supports teachers

Democracy, collective impact, sustainable development, hate speech – how should schools teach and discuss these matters with pupils of varying ages? More than 170 items of support material have now been published on the redesigned website of the Finnish National Agency for Education to support the work of teachers and other education specialists. The site contains a diverse range of material categorised by topic, including children’s rights, participation by children and youth, democratic citizenship and human rights education, the prevention of violent extremism and hate speech.

The materials support all teachers in their work as educators in democratic citizenship and human rights. The themes of democratic citizenship and human rights education support the establishment of a culture of wellbeing and equality in the school community. Furthermore, the materials provide tools for addressing topical questions, such as disinformation and hate speech, and preventing violent extremism. Hate speech has been identified as a human rights problem that curtails pluralistic and democratic discourse. In fact, schools have a particularly important role in the development of a democratic culture that strengthens community.

– It all stems from caring and the creation of a positive and supportive atmosphere, something to which everyone can contribute. By considering and listening to others as well as working together, you can do a lot for the common good, says Kristina Kaihari, Counsellor of education at the Finnish National Agency for Education.

The Finnish education system is based on human rights, with the curricula emphasising the goals and content of democratic citizenship and human rights education. Material repositories for this field have also been produced previously, but now materials from various NGOs, public authorities and higher education institutions have been collected in one place.

– Teacher students have found the materials for democratic citizenship and human rights education an important source of support when discussing topical themes. At the same time, this subject matter provides support for managing the core values of education: what is important in life and in schools, says Project Planner Tuija Kasa from the University of Helsinki.

– It’s great to have the materials available on the Finnish National Agency for Education website, since the agency's role as a key authority in education makes it possible to communicate on these topics to all schools and to highlight societally significant focus areas of curriculum reforms. The materials are suitable for independent continuing education and can be applied to education targeted at different age groups.

The materials have been compiled collaboratively by the Finnish National Agency for Education and a development project for teacher education coordinated by Finnish universities. In autumn 2019, the Human Rights, Democracy, Values and Dialogue in Education project compiled the materials now available under thematic categories on the Democracy, human rights and participation website.

Contact details:

Tuija Kasa, Project Planner, University of Helsinki, tuija.kasa@helsinki.fi, +358 2941 20665

Kristina Kaihari, Counsellor of Education, Finnish National Agency for Education, kristina.kaihari@oph.fi, +358 2953 31085


Democratic citizenship, human rights and participation website (in Finnish mainly, Swedish-language version coming at a later date)