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Human rights and public education

Bowring, Bill (2012) Human rights and public education. Cambridge Journal of Education 42 (1), pp. 53-65. ISSN 0305-764X.

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This article attempts a contrast to the contribution by Hugh Starkey. Rather than his account of the inexorable rise of human rights discourse, and of the implementation of human rights standards, human rights are here presented as always and necessarily scandalous and highly contested. First, I explain why the UK has lagged so far behind its European neighbours in implementing citizenship education. Second, a comparison with France shows that the latest UK reforms bring us up to 1789. Third, the twentieth-century second-generation social and economic rights are still anathema in the UK. Fourth, the failure to come to terms with Empire and especially the slave trade means that the UK’s attitude to third-generation rights, especially the right of peoples to self-determination, is heavily compromised. Taking into account the points I raise, citizenship education in the UK might look very different.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Cambridge Journal of Education 42(1), pp.53-65. Cambridge Journal of Education is available online at:
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): human rights, citizenship, generations of rights, comparison France and Britain, institutional racism, empire
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Law
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 02 May 2012 11:23
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2014 10:09

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