The Executive Director of CAPIO, Rev. Fr Ambrose Ekeroku, OCD recently participated in the 40th International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP), organized by Equitas from 9th to 28th June 2019. The training was hosted by John Abbot College, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Montreal in Quebec province, Canada, and was comprised of 96 lucky participants from 45 countries around the world. There were only 3 participants from Nigeria in this training class. According to the Equitas Team, they received over 800 applications for this year’s training program, so the selection process was very strenuous, and all those present counted ourselves lucky to be part of the program. Once we arrived in Canada, we were split into 7 groups. Groups 1- 4 were English speaking while groups 5-7 were French speaking. Each group had a Facilitator and Co-facilitator
The overall goal of the International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP) is to strengthen the capacity of human rights organizations and institutions to undertake human rights education efforts (e.g. training, awareness campaigns, information dissemination and advocacy), aimed at building a global culture of human rights.
The objectives of IHRTP was designed to enable participants do the following at the end of their training:
- Use a framework based on internationally accepted human rights standards and principles to analyze the issues and situations encountered in the work of their organizations.
- Identify ways in which human rights education can increase the effectiveness of their human rights work.
- Integrate a participatory approach into their human rights and human rights education work
- Determine strategies for promoting gender equality in their human rights education work.
- Employ a basic evaluation process for assessing the results of their human rights education work
- Explore networking opportunities essential for furthering the cause of human rights.
- Indicate appropriate ways for putting their learning from the IHRTP into practice in the work of their organizations.
In all my years of work here at CAPIO, where I have worked since 2011, I have been learning on the job. I have picked up bits and pieces here and there in both international and local conferences. I have also learnt through personal studies- especially as it relates to criminal justice administration and prison reforms. However, IHRTP exposed me to formal training on human rights in general. It was intense, very demanding, and yet fascinating at the same time. It was so intense, that the program could easily have been a six-month course. There were 7 loaded sessions, sandwiched amongst other team bonding and cultural events, like Family Hosts, International Evening, Building a Human Rights Culture Tree, Montreal Raging Grannies, Individual plans, Play it Fair, Course Barbecue etc.. One of the special highlights for me was Meeting with Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Besides the exposure to comprehensive human rights training, my major take away from this training is the method of delivery, which is called “participatory approach”. This approach is based on principles of adult experiential learning, which promotes the sharing of personal knowledge and experience, formed the basis of our training materials designed by Equitas. Participants and Facilitators committed to engage in a process of mutual teaching and learning. The emphasis was on practical application and on the development of strategies for future action. In this model, continual reflection and evaluation are central to the learning process. As participants, we brought our analyses and experiences to the program, while Equitas as educators, brought their theoretical and practical knowledge of participatory education. The learning event provided me and many of the participants the opportunity for rich exchange. The purpose or goal of this human rights education project is “empowerment” to bring about social change. The participatory learning process served as a means of achieving this goal and is itself an expression of this empowerment.
I, Ambrose Ekeroku have been empowered. CAPIO has been empowered. We shall be integrating participatory approach using the five steps of the ‘Learning Spiral’ Systems Approach, and Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) in all our human rights education programs going forward. I have gained exponentially because of this training and am looking forward to stepping it down to my staff and CAPIO catchment area.