Freedom from Want and Fear
Since the time of the ancient philosophers, human rights have been a subject of discussion and debate. How do we define the fundamental liberties of every human being, and how do we defend them?
However, it wasn't until World War II that there was an international effort to codify universal human rights. In response to the horrific tragedies of the Holocaust, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed four basic, inalienable freedoms in a 1941 speech before Congress:
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Freedom of worship
- Freedom from want
- Freedom from fear
The United Nations then set out to create a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After years of debate and negotiation between nations, member states of the United Nations adopted the Declaration on December 10, 1948.
Since then, December has become known as Universal Human Rights Month. Each year, organizations around the globe use the month to disseminate and promote the Declaration.
Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the website of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.
The Freedom to Learn
Article 26 of the Declaration focuses on education. It asserts the following basic principles:
- Everyone has the right to a free education in the 'elementary and fundamental stages.'
- Education shall be compulsory in the elementary stages and technical and professional education shall be made generally available and widely accessible.
- Education shall 'promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups.'
- Parents shall have the right to choose the type of education given to their children.
Why is education a fundamental human right? UNESCO sums up the reason well: 'Education promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits.'
Education gives individuals the power to think and act independently. On the most fundamental level, basic reading and math skills are required to navigate most aspects of adult life on one's own. Beyond that, understanding the world around us empowers us to make informed decisions about our own lives.
Furthermore, education is good for society. An educated populace can innovate in arts, science and culture, operate businesses, participate in civics and promote all the aspects of a healthy economy.
Sadly, not everyone has access to even the most fundamental education. But there are organizations around the globe fighting to remedy this situation. Keep an eye on this blog for tomorrow's interview with the co-founder of the Kilgoris Project.
Don't miss our Thanksgiving article on why we at Study.com are grateful to have an education.