“The Pandemic is Galvanizing Change”: Shifting to a Critical and Decolonial Approach to Human Rights Education With Youth

The heightened visibility of racial discrimination coupled with the repression of young people’s civil and political rights during the COVID-19 pandemic is surfacing the need for human rights education (HRE) to address anti-racism more intentionally. HRE practitioners reflect on language, the limitations of celebrating diversity, and the need for critical consciousness and deliberative spaces in youth engagement programming to address lived injustices across communities. As children’s rights researchers and practitioners, we consider the interdependence of the rights to participation and non-discrimination and the need to recalibrate youth programs to consider age alongside race and other aspects of identity. The shift to a critical and decolonial approach to HRE includes embracing intersectionality and reflexivity, actively bringing BIPOC youth to the centre of defining and cultivating racial justice engagement to catalyze systemic-level change. We identify reflection questions for institutions, programs, and practitioners to support this journey.