Incorporating human rights education into legal education curriculum in Nigeria – The potential role of university law clinics in human rights education in Nigeria

Paper presented at the 2015 CLEA Conference in Glasgow

Rofiah Sarumi
University of Kwazulu-Natal
South Africa

Legal education in Nigeria is evolving and so is the need for the protection of human rights. The expected role of legal practitioners in the protection of the rights of citizens is now better defined and there is no gainsaying the fact that Nigerian lawyers have a great duty to ensure that the provisions of chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution are met.

While Nigeria’s current legal education curriculum has a lot to offer in the training of lawyers at the undergraduate level, the curriculum does not focus deeply on the teaching of practical human rights principles at the undergraduate level. This paper therefore highlights some good teaching practices in some South African Universities and calls for the incorporation of these into the Nigerian undergraduate human rights education curriculum. It also highlights the potential role which law clinics can play in ensuring that practical human rights education is better taught and applied in Universities.

This paper aims at presenting a proposal for the development of a curriculum for the teaching of human rights module in Nigerian Universities. It attempts to highlight the human rights issues which will be of benefit to the training of lawyers in Nigeria. It aims at stating how these issues will be included in the curriculum in order to ensure that students have adequate exposure to human rights issues and that they are able to recognise these issues and apply the knowledge when they come across the issues in real life cases.

The paper highlights the need for the establishment of law clinics within the universities and the role which these law clinics will play in addressing general human rights issues, including access to justice within the communities. The law clinics will also offer advice to the members of the communities on general human rights issues and students will be able to render quasi-judicial services which bother on the rights of citizens.

Some of the theoretical issues which need to be included in the curriculum are issues like the fundamental principles of human rights, access to justice, rights of accused persons and prisoners, rights of other vulnerable groups and gender related issues. Practical topics such as learning human rights in the field also need to be incorporated in the curriculum.

It is clear that there is room for some innovative changes in the way in which human rights education is taught in Nigerian Universities. This paper therefore highlights ways of ensuring that the current practices in South African Universities are incorporated in Nigeria.

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