Freire developed an educational theory of “conscientization” within the framework of a theory of radical social change and expressed it in a literacy training program. According to John Elias (1994), Freire’s literacy method can be summarized into three stages. These three stages are: (1) the study of the context; (2) the selection of words from the discovered vocabulary (codification); and, (3) the actual literacy training (de-codification). Reading is not merely transferring information but touches the world around the words. Reading should connect learners’ living experiences so they can act and reflect upon reading and connect it with the real world. Freire (1973, p. 48) argued that “acquiring literacy does not involve memorizing sentences, words and syllables lifeless objects unconnected to an existential universe … but rather an attitude of creation and re-creation, a self transformation producing a stance on intervention in one' s context.” Freire’s adult literacy method was first used for educating 300 sugarcane workers in a poor neighbourhood in Angicos in the state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil in 1962 (Mies, 1973). He successfully taught the adult learners of the program to read and write in just 45 days. After the success of this project, Freire’s adult literacy method and pedagogical concepts were well embraced and became popular in empowering poor and illiterate people (Mies, 1973). Soon after this success, the Brazilian government became interested in implementing Freire’s methodology to increase adult literacy all over the country. In 1964, the Brazilian government designed a program to create 20,000 cultural circles to reach two million people with literacy education. In the plan, each cultural circle consisted of 30 adult learners and worked together for two months (Mies, 1973). Nuryatno (2006) reported that Freire promoted cultural circles insteadof traditional classroom schooling to educate the adult learners. Freire proposed the formation of cultural circles, managed by a coordinator, where dialogue was used in the process of teaching and learning. He criticized the conventional lecture format that considered the learners as empty objects and the teacher/coordinator as a propagator of knowledge. This kind of traditional teaching-learning process that regarded learners as depositories and the teachers as depositors was described as “banking education.” Freire further stated that this kind of education suffers from narrative sickness and is an instrument of oppression (Freire, 1970). For Freire, literacy was not only mere training of learning how to read or write, but aimed to shape the consciousness of the learners and engage them to act and reflect in their social context (Nuryatno (2006).-
A Historical Analysis on Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and Abed's Reception of Paulo Freire's Critical Literacy in Designing BRAC's Functional Education Curriculum in Bangladesh From 1972 to 1981
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In this study, I examine the characteristics of the reception of Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire’s critical literacy by Building Resources Across Communities in Bangladesh (BRAC) from 1972 to 1981.The central questions of this study are: (1) how Dr. Fazle Hasan Abed, founding member of BRAC, read Freire within the context of his political intentionality and what he perceived were BRAC’s needs; and, (2) how Freire’s adult literacy theory was integrated in BRAC’s functional education curriculum design and practice. I argue that Abed was inspired by Paulo Freire’s pedagogical tenets in the planning and enactment of BRAC’s development initiatives to help the rural poor; however, Abed depoliticized and de-radicalized Freirean concepts when designing its functional education curriculum. Furthermore, his efforts at organizing the rural poor to generate income opportunities may have helped make the rural poor naïvely conscious. I also argue that although BRAC adapted Freire in its adult literacy curriculum, the program did not aim at the conscientization of its learners to challenge the oppressive social structure. Abed considered education as a tool of development within the frame of capitalism, not as an instrument for radical social transformation as Freire did. The political and social implications of specific processes of reception are illustrated through this comprehensive study on why and how Freire’s pedagogical principles were adopted and adapted by BRAC to develop their functional literacy curriculum. Development educators as well as popular educators, social reformers and social business entrepreneurs may gain a new perspective on the reception of Freirean pedagogical ideas.
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