This paper considers the special role of education in cooperating for (imperfect) justice. It begins with a simple premise: what happens if we approach the topic of human rights and education, not by putting some ‘human rights’ into education; but by putting some ‘education’ into human rights? It explores some contemporary philosophical understandings of what ‘education’ is and considers the relevance of such insights to our understandings and practice of cooperation for human rights. The discussion draws together two lines of theoretical argument: the problem of imperfect justice (opening the way for the human rights to come); and Sharon Todd’s philosophy of imperfect education, treating educational endeavour as an ‘imperfect garden’. The two lines of argument converge towards conceptions of imperfection as unfinishedness and possibility, affirming relationality and humanity as the common commitments from which acts of cooperation proceed. The paper discusses the pivotal place of education for human rights, occupying a central space in-between imperfect justice and imperfect education. The discussion considers the nature of education-in-itself, examining the theme of contingent relationality and how this relates to ‘humanity’ in both education and human rights. It takes on Biesta’s statement that education is a ‘beautiful risk’ that we must take - imperfection and risk are at the heart of education as a thing-in-itself, what gives education its educational character. The opening discussion situates the philosophical ideal of imperfect education for imperfect justice within a distinctively Southern political frame for thinking about cooperation for human rights. Invoking the ‘spirit of Bandung’ as an emancipatory ideal, the paper considers the generosity of the educational space and its affordances for human freedom that enable cooperation-in-diversity that is not merely affirmative about human rights, but for it.