Fellow Since 1996
Human Rights Education Project
This profile was prepared when Peter Volmink was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Beginning in 1998, the curriculum of most South African schools will be overhauled in an effort to introduce subject matter that was completely excluded, or available only to a small minority, during the apartheid era. In Peter Volmink's judgment, the proposed reform presents an extraordinary opportunity to make the schools a major vehicle for enhancing public awareness of rights that were widely abused (and not always well understood) under the apartheid regime, and for deepening the commitment of South Africans of all races and backgrounds to the vigilant defense of those rights. After an intense and lengthy personal effort as a member of a committee that is helping guide the Department of Education's reform initiative, Peter succeeded in gaining the Department's endorsement of the inclusion of human rights in the new curriculum, both as a unit of study and as a cross-cutting theme to be used in animating other subjects. But he knows that much more work is required to translate that mandate into concrete and effective measures that will assure the attainment of his goal. He is thus engaged in a systematic effort to mobilize the full and enthusiastic commitment of school officials, teachers, and other community leaders for effective rights education in South Africa's schools, to develop appropriate teaching materials, and to organize related teacher-training workshops throughout South Africa.