The challenges of teaching for human rights in Nigeria: knowledge, pedagogy and activism


  • Adaobiagu Obiagu University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • Okechukwu Nwaubani University of Nigeria, Nsukka



Human rights promotion continues to elude Nigeria, despite the many human rights instruments ratified and the various human rights initiatives taken. The key question behind this paper is: Why is human rights behaviour poor and human rights violations high despite numerous measures to address these issues? To examine this, the study investigates teachers’ awareness of curriculum contents and pedagogies for cultivating human rights, drawing on a survey of 170 social studies teachers in Enugu State. We find challenges to teaching for human rights, including teachers’ poor knowledge of human rights content; a lack of awareness of human rights pedagogies; a reluctance to engage in activism; and little engagement with participatory pedagogies. We explain these challenges with reference to conservative teacher education, entrenched patriarchal values, a strong nationalistic-oriented curriculum, and authoritarian school structures. We recommend transforming Nigerian social studies teacher education programmes and policies to enable social justice and human rights.


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Author Biographies

Adaobiagu Obiagu, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Lecturer, Department of Social Science Education, University of Nigeria

Okechukwu Nwaubani, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Professor, Department of Social Science Education, University of Nigeria and Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Education, University of Nigeria.


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How to Cite

Obiagu, A., & Nwaubani, O. (2020). The challenges of teaching for human rights in Nigeria: knowledge, pedagogy and activism. Human Rights Education Review, 3(2), 5–26.



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