Standing up for human rights
In Slovakia, over 30 NGO projects to promote human rights are now underway under the Human Rights Support Program, from advocacy for the Roma minority to a lecture series raising awareness of human rights atrocities around the world.
The Human Rights Support Program was established in April 2008, providing financial support to projects aiming to reduce discrimination, protect human rights and encourage a harmonious multicultural environment. "It is difficult for human rights activities to qualify for public funding in Slovakia, and the support from the EEA and Norway Grants has therefore created a wonderful opportunity for Slovak human rights organisations," said Jana Malovicova at the Open Society Foundation, which manages the program.
Multicultural dialogue through art
At the organisation People in Peril's offices, Ivana Raslavská is pleased to see her project "MulticulturART" reaching its concluding phases. The organisation works towards the goal of global education - raising awareness and understanding of minorities and other disadvantaged groups in Slovakia and the rest of the world. The funding from the Human Rights Support Program has enabled the organisation to carry out a pilot multicultural educational project in nine secondary schools in Slovakia. Through education and creative activities, MulticulturART encourages awareness and tolerance towards minorities and their culture, while establishing intercultural dialogue between the majority population and local minority groups.
In the autumn of 2008, teachers at the nine selected schools took part in training to enable them to teach multicultural lessons in their schools. Pupils from each school were also invited to attend an autumn school, where they were taught art techniques while being introduced to multicultural issues. In partnership with young people from minority groups, the pupils then went on to develop theatre plays, documentaries and photo exhibitions. The pupils also conducted a survey looking into people's attitudes towards ethnic minorities in their local community.
"The feedback we got from the pupils is amazing. Many of them come back to us saying the project has brought them a better understanding of, and openness to, the minorities in their region," said Raslavská. Based on the experiences from the pilot project, educational material on multicultural and intercultural issues will now be developed and distributed to 200 secondary schools across Slovakia.
Spreading the word on human rights
Further down the corridor at People in Peril's offices, we find Gabriela Šuvadová, project manager for human rights and responsible for another initiative supported by the Human Rights Support Program; a project to raise awareness about human rights violations. Through a lecture series featuring human rights activists from countries including North Korea, Burma, China and Cuba, the project targets university students across the country.
"It is important that Slovak students are aware of human rights issues," said Šuvadová. "It`s not long since we were living under communism, and we want to remind students of our past and how it relates to today's situation in Burma, China and North Korea," she concluded.
Human Rights Support Program, 2006-2011
Type & project assistance:
Open Society Foundation (NOS-OSF)
Type of institution:
Non governmental Organisation
EEA Grants and Norway Grants
Grant agreement date:
01 June 2007
The purpose of the Fund is to improve the ability of disadvantaged groups to enjoy their rights, with the overall objective of reducing discrimination, strengthening the judiciary, protecting human rights and strengthening the multicultural environment. Reference is made to the application dated 13 January 2006, as well as to additional information provided by the Focal Point on 31 May 2006 and 5 September 2006.
The completed Fund shall include the following activities and results:
- re-granting towards selected sub-project applications concerning four focus areas: protection of human rights; antidiscrimination; strengthening the judiciary; and strengthening the multicultural environment;
- Fund management.
The Intermediary is the Nadácia otvorenej spolocnosti - Open Society Foundation (NOS-OSF).
The Focal Point shall ensure that the state budget of the Slovak Republic will provide at least 15 percent of the estimated eligible costs of the Fund.