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Education and training should be designed to relate to people’s work experiences.


The British Institute of Human Rights provides human rights training to a wide range of public sector staff including frontline services. The role of the Human Rights Act in the UK as a tool for improving the quality of public services forms the basis of the Institute’s training programmes. Trainees are encouraged to approach the Act not as a legal document but instead as a practical framework for improved decision making.

Real incidents are used to showcase the way in which this framework functions. These are carefully selected for their relevance to the daily work of the trainees.

Trainees often remark that these examples are a highlight because they connect new learning with the trainees’ own professional experience. They also inject a crucial human rights dimension into the training session. Wherever possible, trainees are encouraged to come with their own examples for further discussion. This is particularly effective as a way of enhancing participation and instilling a sense of ‘ownership’ in the training content.

Source: Focus groups, 2011, United Kingdom

Learning Point

Identifying target audience needs
When identifying the content of any training course, it is obviously important to keep in mind the needs of the learners. Taking note of requests or creating a list of possible needs for the target group can help identify relevant content. For example, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Office of the city of Turin organised a series of training sessions in response to requests from colleagues. The training proved to be fruitful because it increased participants’ understanding of LGBT issues and stimulated ongoing involvement in LGBT events and meetings.

Linking to professional environments
The target audience needs to see fundamental rights training as part of professional development and optimising the quality of work. To make it practical and link to their daily work, trainers should request work samples from the target group and tailor the training around these real-life cases.

Sharing good practice
Integrating good practice exchange into training sessions helps to demonstrate how the theoretical and legal framework for fundamental rights can be implemented in practice. This is particularly helpful when participants share experiences from different departments and organisations. Not only does this illustrate the relevance of fundamental rights for multiple policy areas, but it can also lay the ground for networking and cooperation between participants after the training.

Training on legal issues
The legal context is very important for everyone involved in fundamental rights activities. However, to maximise their relevance to policy and service delivery, legal issues need to be related to the work environment. A good trainer can explain these links.