Assessing the transformative potential of UNRWA’s Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, and Tolerance (HRCRT) curriculum for Palestinian refugees

Human rights advocates and institutions around the world, particularly the United Nations, have acknowledged that establishing a culture of human rights hinges upon human rights education (HRE). The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Education Sector has taken initiative in this regard by developing a multifaceted human rights learning framework for Palestinian refugee children throughout the Middle East through its Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, and Tolerance (HRCRT) program. Based on deconstructing the components of empowering and transformational HRE methodologies, this paper analyzes the forty lesson plans included in the UNRWA HRCRT Teacher Toolkit (2013) according to their potential to actively facilitate the realization of human rights aims. Applying Meintjes’ (1997) rendering of empowerment outcomes and critical consciousness, the paper identifies gaps in pedagogy aimed at the cultivation of agency and the application of knowledge to the lived realities of marginalized and refugee Palestinian children. Finally, it argues for deeper contextualization and the promotion of leadership development as an inroad to transformative learning within UNRWA’s current political constraints.

Marissa Wong is a Master’s candidate in International Educational Development at Teachers College, Columbia University. E-mail:

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