Transformational Education: Creating Engaged Citizens

Published on ZNet (first on, by Ruth Needleman, March 1, 2016.

Ana began working in a shoe factory in Sapiranga, Southern Brazil, when she was 11 years old. A single mother, Ana worked 6, 10-hour days a week for the next 30 years. Her son could not get help from her on his school work, because she never had a chance to attend school. She felt invisible.  

After completing a 3-month, 5 nights a week, Metalworkers’ Union Education Program—the “Integrated Program”—Ana received an elementary school certification, vocational training, along with critical thinking. She studied employment, urban society, new technology, globalization, and environmental sustainability, all from the perspective of work and workers. She learned hands-on research and policy development, and confronted legislators to demand change.

Ana told me after graduation, “Now I am somebody. Now my son talks to me.“ Pride and self-confidence lit up her eyes.

The program Ana attended was the product of a multi-year collaboration among workers, employed and unemployed, popular educators and university professors, sponsored by the Metalworkers Union (CNM) in Southern Brazil, and designed primarily for unemployed and under-employed workers. The program became part of the “Instituto Integrar” or the Institute for Integrated Education.

Integrar was remarkable on multiple levels. The union offered this course free to non-members. The instructors had practiced Paulo Freire’s transformational pedagogy for years. The classes were constructed on participants’ own knowledge and life experience, and the disciplines were integrated and applied in the service of knowledge creation. The goals were: 1. To secure access to income for poor and unemployed workers; 2. To transform marginalized victims of neoliberalism into engaged citizens and activists; and 3. To strengthen the social movements in Brazil.

No country has been more influenced by the radical educator and philosopher Paulo Freire than Brazil, his own nation. What Freire learned doing literacy work among the country’s poorest people in the Northeast led him to call for the overthrow of the system that brought misery and oppression to a majority of Brazil’s people. Although his ideas continued to develop during his long exile under the Brazilian Military Dictatorship (1964-88), Freire’s war against neoliberalism only intensified … //

… In January 2014 I attended the World Social Forum on Education held in the City of Canoas. In his opening speech at the Forum, Mayor Jairo Jorge cited Paulo Freire multiple times and concluded stressing that “Education must be for life and not for the market,” criticizing vocationally-oriented programs as short-sighted and meant to perpetuate the status quo. Citizenship education, in contrast, is meant to create new leaders capable of building a better world, one that serves the needs of the majority.

(full text).


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… and this -

Berlin from 1900 to 1945:

Berlin today:

  • Berlin, 62.16 min, uploaded by rewboss … Full 1-hour version of my Berlin series, in which I trace the history of Germany’s capital through the sights and tourist attractions;
  • Berlin von oben (from above) … from Fernsehturm resp Restaurant, 5.57 min, uploaded by Udo Heini;
  • Landscapes around the city: The Real Berlin – BBC Travel Doc, uploaded by Travel Places & Culture: Part 1, 10.30 min; Part 2, 11.12 min.

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