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18 November 2021: The Geneva Paulo Freire Centenary

On 18 November 2021 from 15:00-17:00 CET, NORRAG and Teacher College, Columbia University organised a celebration event for the centenary of Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire. The event included interpretation in English, French and Portuguese.

“The Geneva Paulo Freire Centenary” featured the following speakers:

Leon P. Tikly: Freire in Africa

Freire had an intimate connection with liberation struggles in Africa. In this presentation, discussion will focus on how Freire’s work including Pedagogy of the Oppressed was profoundly influenced by African intellectuals including Franz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral. The talk will critically consider the contribution that Freire’s work made to national liberation struggles in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent as well as to the development of mass literacy programmes. The presentation will conclude with a consideration of the relevance of Freire’s ideas today and in the context of regional agendas such as Agenda 2063.

Paulo Blikstein: Can technology be an agent for Freirean emancipation? Case studies from Brazil and Thailand

Digital technologies are often (and rightfully so) associated with surveillance, exploitation, compliance, and control, used in education to strengthen oppressive approaches to schooling. Such uses are even more present now with artificial intelligence, the ubiquity of smartphones and social media, and the partnerships being established between large technology companies and public school systems. In this talk, I will present experiences that tell a different story: how technologies can be used in subversive ways to challenge current classroom practices and public policy, à la Paulo Freire. Instead of being controlled by technology, children are given the control; instead of using technologies for curriculum compliance, they use it to create projects connected to their lives and communities.

Joao Abilio Lazaro: Repositioning Freire in a society that rejects critical rationality in Mozambique

As a politically and economically dependent element of our human existence, education, particularly in the Mozambican context, has mainly been confined to a utilitarian perspective for people to be trained in view of meeting the demands of the labour market as a way to promote economic productivity within society. This type of education, however, ignores the need for people to develop the Freirean understanding of critical rationality which is supposed to promote a democratic consciousness, the values of human dignity and the moral and intellectual advancement of the human person. This paper firstly presents the Mozambican education scenario in order to reposition Paulo Freire’s conception of education to the situation of African education systems, particularly in Mozambique. The paper then challenges African political leaderships to embrace a Freirean critical consciousness-based education for the growth of their countries and citizens.

Agenda (download the programme PDF)

Speakers’ biographies (download the PDF)

Dr. Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Professor Teachers College, Columbia University and Graduate Institute, Geneva and Director of NORRAG
Dr. Moira V. Faul, Executive Director, NORRAG

Leon P. Tikly, UNESCO Chair in Inclusive, Good Quality Education and Global Chair in Education at the University of Bristol
Q&A with the audience

Paulo Blikstein, Associate Professor of Communications, Media and Learning Technologies Design at Columbia University
Q&A with the audience

Joao Abilio Lazaro, Lecturer, Researcher, ISCED Open University Mozambique
Q&A with the audience

Dr. Moira V. Faul, Executive Director, NORRAG

If you missed it:

Released on 19 September on the Centenary of Paulo Freire, is an archival video from 1988 of a panel discussion at the University of Zurich. At the panel, Freire speaks, among others, about education of migrants, the situation in Brazil, women liberation movements and develops some of the ideas from his landmark book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Panelists included Paulo Freire and Professor Gita Steiner-Khamsi, NORRAG Director. Watch the video below.




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