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A Survey on Human Rights Education in Mongolia: The Impact of Cultural Factors
Нийтэлсэн: Бүрэнжаргал
Огноо: 2005-11-02
By ALTANGEREL CHOIJOO (Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences Mongolian State University of Education In Collaboration with)s
KRISTI RUDELIUS-PALMER (Co-Director, Human Rights Center University of Minnesota)

A Survey on Human Rights Education in Mongolia:
The Impact of Cultural Factors

Executive Summary

Mongolia is a democratic country, which has legally confirmed human rights principles in terms of international and domestic legislation. Although fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed by Constitution, their implementation level still remains low. One of the reasons for this situation is the level of human rights awareness of Mongolian public. Their level of education is not enough for them to possess enough knowledge and ability to be protected by the legislation.

Currently, human rights education is increasingly recognized as an effective strategy to prevent human rights abuses. However, Mongolia is one of the countries failing to respond to the call for the UN Decade for Human Rights Education. On the other hand, unsatisfactory human rights implementation is rooted in traditional Mongolian cultural factors: respect for a state, lack of participation in politics, and dominant collectivism principles. From this viewpoint, this survey was conducted to examine the interrelationship of human rights awareness and aspects of Mongolian culture.

Introduction and Framework - This section covers a description of the project goals and objectives, the hypotheses used, and the methodology employed.

Implementation of the Study - discusses the design of the study including the kind of sampling used, the sampled population and the instruments used in the study. A random sampling was used, as well as a combination of questionnaires and focus group interviews. The section also covers how the study was implemented and how data was collected and subjected to quality control.

Findings and Analysis - provides a list of findings from the study and a synthesis of the qualitative and quantitative analyses of human rights education in Mongolia. The study results were analyzed separately for 4 sections: 1.) The human rights situation in Mongolia; 2.) Values/attitudes for human rights education; 3.) Teaching human rights in the educational system, and; 4.) The impact of cultural factors.

Conclusion and Recommendation - discusses the present status of human rights in Mongolia, public awareness on human rights education, and the impacts of cultural factors on human rights within the framework of the study. Additionally, the applications of human rights education are contextualized within the broader perspective of Mongolian society in general and its educational system in particular. In the end, the author introduces some comments and motions on activities of the governments and NGOs related to human rights education.

A Survey on Human Rights Education in Mongolia:
The Impact of Cultural Factors

Introduction and Framework:

This survey on human rights education and cultural relativity in Mongolia was conducted in August-September, 2004 within the framework of the research project "Human Rights Education in Mongolia and Cultural Relativity" funded by OSI, Higher Education Support Program, Central Asian Research Initiative (CARI) Program.

This survey aims to implement the following objectives:

  1. Determine attitudes and the level of the human rights education of Mongolians,
  2. Define how to integrate human rights education into general education curriculums.
  3. Identify key cultural values that influence on human rights education and analyze how these values relate to current situation of human rights promotion in Mongolia.
  4. Develop a new curriculum for human rights education based on the findings of this survey.

The main hypotheses are:

  • The level of human rights education and awareness of Mongolians is very low, and a human rights culture has not yet formed in Mongolian society.
  • For Mongolians, most human rights violations appear as a normal situation, because Mongolians do not have a sufficient awareness of human rights.
  • The unsatisfactory implementation of human rights is rooted in cultural factors, both traditional and post-communist, such as respect for the state, weak civic participation, and dominant principles of collectivism.
  • The current cultural relativity of human rights depends more on communist heritages than on traditional culture of Mongolians.
  • In this case, Human Rights Education helps an individual to become a free citizen, gain awareness of his/her rights and duties, and learn to respect the rights of others, and act through the rule of law and moral judgment.

This field survey assesses several important areas in relation to human rights education, including:

  • Human rights awareness in Mongolia
  • Values/attitudes for human rights education
  • Teaching human rights at educational levels
  • Cultural impacts on human rights

     

These areas are related to various objectives of HRE. The survey, however, mainly assesses the first objective of HRE: raising a level of human rights awareness of citizens.

Implementation of the Study:

Research methods consist of the following steps:
Data collection methods:

- Content analysis - This method is used for the analysis of national and international human rights documents. It collects resources such as international human rights treaties, human rights education documents, and curriculum and research materials and makes a comparative analysis with other countries.

- Survey - The survey asked 30 questions to ascertain general awareness of basic human rights and freedoms, attitudes on human rights education, and the impact of Mongolian cultural factors. These questions were prepared in advance under the mentor's guidelines. The survey was conducted with a selected sample of people from Ulaanbaatar capital, Arkhangai, Hubsgul, and Umnugobi provinces. The researchers tried to involve the members of various social groups. The total number of respondents was 520, 330 people from northern, central, and southern regions (110 people/region), and 190 from Ulaanbaatar. This collection provided the opportunity to determine the level of human rights awareness among the populations of urban and rural areas and their willingness to accept HRE.

- Interview - This method is used to express the cultural impacts of Mongolians on human rights awareness with qualitative index. Based on this method, the interviews establish the mutual relationship between human rights education and culture when real life scenes and occasions are taken as the research resources.

Data elaboration methods:
Mathematics processing done on the collected data using SPSS-11.0 program by the following steps.

  • Determining certain research parameters and organizing and graphing data.
  • Calculating the mutual relationship between the factors and results with the guidance of correlative analysis.
  • Determining the research parameters with the index of qualitative and quantitative.

Comparative analysis:

  • Comparing the results occurring from the analysis with other research findings and making a conclusion on the level of the human rights awareness in Mongolian society.
  • Analyzing the relationship between cultural relativity and human rights awareness.

General information on the respondents:

Sex * Age Cross tabulation Count

    Age           Total
    under 18 19-28 29-39 40-49 50-59
upper 60
 
Sex male 16 50 40 49 19 6 180
  female 27 94 97 70 31 6 325
Total   43 144 137 119 50 12 505

Education

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid primary
secondary
vocational
graduate
post graduate
Total

25
133
126
205
16
505
5.0
26.3
25.0
40.6
3.2
100.0
5.0
26.3
25.0
40.6
3.2
100.0
5.0
31.3
56.2
96.8
100.0

Findings and Analysis:

1. Human rights awareness in Mongolia

The survey had 505 respondents, 59.2% of who answered that "they could not enjoy their rights and freedoms in current Mongolian society." In Question #10, 66.9% of respondents agreed that "Human rights violations are frequent in their community", yet, when asked to elaborate, 45% could not describe the most common human rights violations. In this question, respondents were asked to identify what type of violations they saw in Mongolian society: 19.2% of respondents identified social rights, 15.2% civil rights, 10.3% political rights, 7.7% economic rights, and 2.6% have been commonly violated in Mongolian society

In Question # 11, respondents indicated that if they suffer any human rights violations, 27.7% of them will contact the National Human Rights Commission, 29.1% - a police station, 19.4% - their local administration, 26.5% - family members and colleagues, and lastly, 16.8% of respondents do not know "how to do on this matter". In response to Question #14, 64 % of total respondents mentioned that their main source of human rights information is mass media radio/TV, 12.7% - educational organizations, 37.8% - published materials, such as books and newspapers, 18.8% - family members and colleagues. In Question #22, 57.6% of participants never heard about the Human Rights Education Decade - 1995-2004.

The overall results of the survey have shown that the level of human rights education is very low and unsatisfactory in Mongolia. The general human rights situation in the country should be considered in developing a human rights education program.

Education * How serious is the HR situation in Mongolia? Cross tabulation Count

How serious is HR situation in Mongolia?
Total
Education  
very serious problem
fairly serious problem
minor problem
Not a problem
Not sure
primary
0
2
9
4
10
25
secondary
7
28
56
29
13
133
vocational
2
29
65
25
5
126
graduate
11
64
97
24
9
205
post graduate
2
7
6
0
1
16
Total  
22
130
233
82
38
505

The level of the HR awareness of Mongolians?

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid very good all
people know
medium
low, most people
don't know
very low
I don't know
Total

16
157
246
62
24
505
3.2
31.1
48.7
12.3
4.8
100.0
3.2
31.1
48.7
12.3
4.8
100.0
3.2
34.3
83.0
95.2
100.0

Do you know the rights guaranteed by the constitution?

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid very good all
people know
medium
low, most people
don't know
very low
I don't know
Total

16
157
246
62
24
505
3.2
31.1
48.7
12.3
4.8
100.0
3.2
31.1
48.7
12.3
4.8
100.0
3.2
34.3
83.0
95.2
100.0

2. Values and attitudes on Human Rights

Question #15 asked "what are the positive influences of HRE in a society?" 34.7% of respondents felt that it asserts the responsibility to respect laws, and 28.7% answered that HRE promotes equality and friendship among all people. Question #16 asked what negative impact would be arising if someone does not know his/her rights. 51.5% of respondents agreed they could not enjoy and protect their rights. Only 26 people answered that there is no difference between knowing and not knowing their rights. Yet, 440 people, or 87.1% of total respondents, never attended any human rights education training. In addition, 45% of them did not take action to improve their human rights education. At the same time, only 46 people answered "I am well aware about my rights guaranteed by Mongolian Constitution."

Although citizens believe that human rights are important, they also feel that they cannot realize human rights in their lifetime. Human rights usually receive public attention only when they are violated. In most cases, however, when people suffer injustice, they begin to see the real meaning of human rights. Therefore, the results of the survey demonstrate that the citizens of Mongolia have not yet created a well-informed human rights culture.

What negative consequences would be arising, if anyone doesn't know his/her rights?

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid cannot enjoy rights
Discriminated against
could not protect themselves
no difference between
Knowing HR and not knowing HR
others
Total

260
107
109
26
3
505
51.5
21.2
21.6
5.1
6.0
100.0
51.5
21.2
21.6
5.1
6.0
100.0
51.5
72.7
94.3
99.4
100.0

What do you do to improve your HR awareness?

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid: read books and printed materials
attend in public activities
attend HRE training
don't want to do anything i never take care on this matter
Total

153
82
23
20
227
505
30.3
16.2
4.6
4.0
45.0
100.0
30.3
16.2
4.6
4.0
45.0
100.0
30.3
46.5
51.1
55.0
100.0

3. Teaching Human Rights

Still, over the past decade, Mongolian civil society organizations have begun to replace the government as the main provider of human rights education. The human rights education programs are developing through various approaches, though these are not fully integrated into the curriculum. In this part of the survey, we considered the contents and models of human rights education. Question #19 asked "What is your opinion on teaching human rights as an independent subject in educational levels?" 32.7% of the respondents favor the development of new subjects on human rights in secondary schools, 44.4% want the subject in both primary and secondary levels. Only 4.8% answered that it is not important. But in Question #20, 47.1% of total respondents agreed that mass media would be the best tool for achieving goals for HRE. Also, 45.3% indicated that formal and non-formal education levels should integrate HRE into a curriculum and programs. In Question #21, 43.8% of respondents felt that human rights education must connect with everyday life issues.

Comments from the Analysis:
The main factors of the unsatisfactory implementation of human rights are: 1.) Lack of human rights culture in the society and; 2.) Unsystematic and ineffective educational activities for human rights. The mass media is a very important tool for delivering information to improve public awareness. Human rights education must also target non-formal public servants to inform and change their awareness of human rights.

To that end, I would like to briefly cover a serious issue in the current state of HRE. In accordance with the education law, the standard curricula for primary and secondary levels are determined by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Culture (MESTC). At the primary level, human rights education would be integrated with other subjects, such as social studies and humanities.

What political system violates HR more than others?

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid: Socialist system
Democratic society
Same in both system
Total

143
68
294
505
28.3
13.5
58.2
100.0
28.3
13.5
58.2
100.0
28.3
41.8
100.0

Which factors affected negatively for HR situation?

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid: nomadic life style
traditional culture and custom
traditional religion the heritage of Socialist society
weakness of civil society
Others
Total

18
22
31
122
303
9
505
3.6
4.4
6.1
24.2
60.0
1.8
100.0
3.6
4.4
6.1
24.2
60.0
1.8
100.0
3.6
7.9
14.1
38.2
98.2
100.0

Are Western HR Conceptions disconnected from Asian HR values?

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid: I agree
I don't agree
don't know
Total

135
103
267
505
26.7
20.4
52.9
100.0

26.7
20.4
52.9
100.0
26.7
47.1
100.0

Is there HR violations depend on Mongolian's culture?

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Valid: No
Yes
I don't know
Total

286
105
114
505
56.6
20.8
22.6
100.0

56.6
20.8
22.6
100.0
56.6
77.4
100.0

4. Cultural Relativity on Human Rights.

Human rights have been accepted as universal principles for humanity. These principles are, however, still contentious issued between countries of different cultural background. This controversy has not touched Mongolia before at a scientific level. Mongolia is a post-communist country with an Eastern nomadic culture and tradition, largely dominated by a rural population. Because of these Mongolian cultural peculiarities, the implementation of human rights and establishment of new educational system is a priority issue.

In the end, several questions were considered on the theme of cultural relativity related human rights. In Question #26, 58.2% of respondents agreed that both socialist and democratic systems violate human rights widely. In the next question, 60% of them answered the main negative factor of human rights promotion is the weakness of civil society. In contrast, only 4.4% considered that factor as the traditional culture and customs of Mongolians. In the question asking "Are Asian human rights notions disconnected from western conceptions?", 26.7% agreed that this statement is true, 20.4% did not agree and 52.9% answered "do not know."

The last question requested that individuals provide cases of human rights violations that depend on the traditional culture of Mongolians. Notably, 22.6% of respondents answered "I do not know" and 56.6% did not answer to the question. Only 20.8% provided us with some human rights cases related to traditional culture. Most of the responses concentrated on unequal relations between men and women, customs of marriage, and the relationship between parents and children in the family.

Conclusion and Recommendation:

Mongolia is a democratic country, which has legally confirmed human rights principles in terms of international and domestic legislation. Human rights are guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution, but their implementation level remains low. During the communist era, human rights were repressed by state measures. In comparison with other categories of human rights, civil and social rights appear to be the most abused; police and other law enforcement agencies violate the rights and freedoms of citizens. Abuse of power by governmental officials has become common in Mongolia. Although over the past 10 years, Mongolia had much positive progress regarding social and economic development, some previous traditions have also been maintained. For democratic reforms to be successful, citizens must be aware of their rights and how to exercise them. Only a democratic government will be a suitable environment for the full exercise of human rights and freedoms.
Consistent with the research results, citizens are not well informed and educated with skills to protect to their own rights. These findings clearly indicate that human rights education is a valuable component of general education. The respondents' input is important to developing human rights education programs that will make human rights less theoretical and promote the self-reliance of students through individual activities. In these circumstances, the role of human rights education is very high and vitally important.

Recommendations:

Empirically, reports of human rights violations, poor implementation of laws, lack of the government transparency, and power abuses of governmental authorities all indicate the need for more effective and more integrated human rights education programs. The main goals of HRE are to inform, educate, and practice HR and responsibilities. To solve the above-mentioned problems, Mongolians need to develop complex educational programs on human rights. Human rights education is a powerful tool for social transformation and justice. Therefore, this study recommends the following measures:

  • Create HR strategies that promote and protect international standards;
  • Promote public knowledge and education on human rights and responsibilities
  • Develop HRE resources and tools focused on shaping attitudes and behavior respectful of those rights.
  • Teach human rights at the university, secondary and primary levels
  • Promote national dialogue on human rights issues.
  • Develop infrastructure of ICT for everybody to have an opportunity and access to all kinds of information.
  • Research on topics pertaining to human rights, particularly to improve the effectiveness of human rights activists and measurement tools/accountability.
  • The educational programs should include development of basic skills such as critical thinking, communication skills, problem solving and learning non-violent methods for the effective implementation of human rights


Written by: Altangerel Choijoo,
Department of Social Sciences, Mongolian State University of Education.
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
24 October, 2004.

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