Human rights education is not on the platter of majority State universities though the University Grants Commission (UGC) has come forward to liberally fund courses offered in this emerging area of study.
Officials concerned agree that most universities have not responded to the UGC’s call to introduce courses pertaining to human rights, in fact, some were not even aware of such proposals.
“Our varsities and the faculty unfortunately aren’t sensitive about such courses and there is a need to sensitise them,” a senior official agreed seeking anonymity.
The UGC had recently sent circulars to all universities promising financial assistance to offer these courses. These courses could be tailored into a foundation course of two to three months duration and a certificate course of three to six months duration to introduce basic concepts. It also suggested an undergraduate course or a postgraduate diploma course of nine to 12 months duration, apart from a postgraduate degree course and an integrated master programme in “Human Rights Education”.
The UGC also promised funds to organise seminars, symposia, workshops, moot court and also to encourage publication of books and journals, and for the promotion of human rights standards, social concerns and human development. Assistance will be provided till the end of XII Plan only.
Interestingly, ignorance is so high that some officials are of the opinion that human rights are part of legal education when the UGC’s objective is to expose students other than those belonging to law on the subject.
“One can understand the lack of response from new universities, but even established varsities have not shown an encouraging response,” an official rued.
The exception though has been Hyderabad Central University (HCU) that offers a P.G. Diploma in Human Rights (PGDHR) through the distance mode. It has been conceived and designed by the Department of Political Science and has been well received.
The programme is now supported by the UGC. HCU also offers a full-fledged Ph.D. programme.