Microsoft word - paulo freire _literacy is everyione's business presentation at acal 2012 conference
Good afternoon or should I say Boa Tarde?
I would like to introduce myself through Paulo Neves Freire:
Paulo and I were born in South America, his birthday was last Wednesday and mine was last
Tuesday, so we are both Virgos. The stars say that Virgos are very analytical and could work
dedicating our lives to others. So, Paulo and I became teachers. We do share a life story, but I won’t
Paulo would have been 91 on Wednesday, but unfortunately he passed away in 1997 from a heart
attack. But he left an incredible legacy that I would like to share with you today.
Freire studied philosophy of language while undergoing a degree in Law. He never practiced as a
lawyer; instead he decided to teach Portuguese at a high school.
In 1946, Freire was given the role of Director of Culture and Social Services Education at his home
state’s government, where he started his work teaching Portuguese literacy to people from low
socio economic backgrounds. In Brazil at that time, literacy was a requirement for voting in
In 1961, Freire was appointed Director of Cultural Extensions at the University of Recife, his home
city. In 1962, he formed a test group of 300 sugar cane workers and taught them how to read and
write in only 40 hours without textbooks during 45 days. Freire criticised the traditional method of
1. Research: Choosing the most significant words and themes in the students’ lives, including
the words used by that particular community.
2. Create Awareness: Analysing the social meaning of those words and themes. 3. Challenge: Through dialogue, the teacher asks students to focus their attention on the
reality that surrounds them, and posed as a problem, defies and inspires them to challenge
1. Building a universal vocabulary. 2. Separating syllables using vowels. 3. Forming new words, using syllables with different vowels. 4. Social consciousness or processing learning situations.
Paulo Freire thought that the objective of adult literacy was to create social consciousness by
allowing students to discuss everyday problems, comprehend the world that surrounds them and
In response to this experiment, the president of Brazil called Freire to organise a national literacy
campaign with the objective of bringing literacy to 2 million people across the country.
Between June 1963 to March 1964, around a million community members responded to the
government’s call. About 300,000 people were trained as literacy teachers and as coordinators of
20,000 culture circles in each capital city and regional areas. He had 6,000 people registered in Rio
de Janeiro alone. Each culture circle was comprised of 30 trainers and each course lasted 3 months.
The training material was provided and the model surprised everyone due to its simplicity.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any documented records on the results of the campaign. In 1964, a
military coup d’état put an end to the current government and kept Freire in prison as a traitor for
After a brief exile in Bolivia, Freire worked in Chile for five years, there he published his most famous
book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He calls traditional pedagogy the "banking model" because it
treats the student as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge, like a piggybank. However, he
argues for pedagogy to treat the learner as a co-creator of knowledge.
In 1969, Freire was offered a visiting professorship at Harvard University in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, USA, a year later, he moved to Geneva, Switzerland to work as an advisor for
UNESCO on education reform in former Portuguese colonies in Africa.
In 1979, Freire was able to return to Brazil. In 1980, he moved back and joined the Workers' Party
(PT) in São Paulo, and acted as a supervisor for its adult literacy project until 1986. When the PT won
the municipal elections in 1988, Freire was appointed Secretary of Education for São Paulo, and from
1989 to 1991, he created MOVA - Movimento de Alfabetização de Adultos, or Adult Literacy
Movement, a public program to support communities in their effort to bring literacy to adults, this
model is still used today, especially by local government. This program led to the creation of EJA –
MOVA works in partnership with organised communities (industry, religious groups, non for profit
organisations, neighbourhood centres) across a Local Government Area. They have groups for
mature learners, and people with a disability.
EJA has centres within the school system.
EJA requires a minimum age of 14 and MOVA, 15. A LGA hotline and its website provide the names
of the organisations participating in the program. To become a trainer, participants must have
completed at least Year 8, live in the LGA, and become members of MOVA. Then, they will receive
training, their duties include organising classrooms with a minimum of 15 students and maximum of
25, and coordinating the 3-hour classes during the week and on Saturdays. They receive weekly
Thousands of people have been trained with this method across Brazil.
Freire not only inspired his countrymen but also many other countries in Latin America.
According to UNESCO, 13 countries of 19 which comprise Latin America have an average adult
literacy rate between 90 and 100%. Out of 51.8% of the total global illiterate population, only 4.6%
of Latin Americans are deemed illiterate. It is important to note that ALL Latin American countries
have guaranteed free education, including university studies.
Ensena Chile: Foundation funded by donations from private enterprises and some support from the
Chiliean Ministry of Education to train qualified professionals in different areas to teach in the most
vulnerable schools across Chile for 2 years. The foundation has the aim to provide quality education
to all Chileans because one teacher can transform the lives of many.
Yo te Enseno – I teach you – Teaching digital literacy
Teachers are taught computer literacy online by catching the mouse. Show video.
And a lone teacher takes on remote communities with his donkeys. Show video.
Around 1940, the government started a mass literacy campaign across the country and
increased its expenditure in education. Schools could be attended either in the morning or in
the afternoon and in the evening; they became adult education learning centres.
Literacy became everyone’s business, as schools and churches trained everyday people on
how to teach basic literacy. Teaching materials and books were donated by private, public
Volunteers travelled to remote communities to work with indigenous populations.
40 years later, the mass campaign was called ‘Acude’ or “Attend”. Funded by private and
public entities, and based on SONO-ESTUDIO Learning sounds (records, cassettes, books and
a record/casstte player), the program used air time donated by TV and radio stations.
Employees from private and public organisations learnt the system and helped fellow
workers before/after work and during lunch breaks.
According to the UNESCO, Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong
learning. For individuals, families, and societies alike, it is an instrument of empowerment to
improve one’s health, one’s income, and one’s relationship with the world.
As, you may know, the 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS) funded by the Department of
Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics
(ABS) revealed that Australian language, literacy and numeracy levels have shown little
improvement in the decade since the 1996 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) and it found
that almost under half of adult Australians cannot confidently read newspapers, follow a recipe,
make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.
Countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Uruguay and Venezuela, have a rate of 97% or
more, and are considered technically free of illiteracy.
In 2008, Cuba spent almost 14 of its GNP in education, while Australia spent 4.63%.
Literacy needs to become everyone’s business.
These countries have used the Yo si Puedo Yes I Can method.
Yo si Puedo is an 'alphanumeric' method delivered via audiovisual technology in 65 classes run for a
minimum of 7 weeks and a maximum of 3 months. It takes participants from the known to the
unknown, and like in Freire’s method, engages them by discussing their social, economic and
political environment. Participants own and control their learning process.
Participants are assessed based on 3 levels:
Illiterate with a disability - There is also versions of the program for people with intellectual
5 minutes – Icebreaker – Teacher and students discuss difficulties and find ways to address them.
15 minutes - participants watch a video followed by a 10-minute break.
15 minutes – participants discuss the video followed by a 10-minute break.
30 minutes – interactive learning using workbook.
Sometimes, weekends could be used for catch up classes. Levels should not be advanced until all
participants have agreed they are ready to proceed. Teachers must prepare lessons according to the
videos. Each class is based on a combination of a letter with a number, for example the letter ‘a’ and
10 active learning classes comprised of:
5 classes: Psychomotor skills, oral communication and numbers up to 30.
42 reading and writing classes comprised of:
19 classes: For Spanish Literacy, special exercises to deal difficulties such as double consonants and
special sounds. In these exercises, participants connect:
a simple figure with a word from the vocabulary list
12 classes: Writing and Script correction through games.
2 Classes: Reading and writing own sentences.
At the end of the program, participants practice reading and writing without audio-visual support.
There is a complimentary program called "Yo, sí puedo seguir” – ‘I can continue’ which assists
participants finalise studies equivalent to up Year 6.
This method is inexpensive and flexible enough to be adapted to any country and/or community. It
has been used in 28 countries, including New Zealand and Canada.
In 2003, the University of New Zealand piloted the Yo Sí Puedo method in two Maori and one Pacific
Islander communities - with more than 5000 participants. Under the name Green Light, the program
had 3168 people in classes; and as of June 2008, 2092 of them had become literate and the
program’s high retention rates were maintained.
The University of New Zealand assisted the Canadian government in implementing Yo Si Puedo for
various Indigenous communities in Canada, under the name ArrowMight. At the conclusion of the
44-week pilot, 92% of students had successfully completed the first module and 67% graduated from
To adapt Yo Si Puedo (Yes I Can) in Timor Leste, Cuban teachers trained over 400 local tutors to run
classes in every part of the country. In 2004, nearly 50% of the population of Timor-Leste was
illiterate, by January 2010 over 45,000 adults, nearly one fifth of the total illiterate population, had
successfully completed a thirteen week basic literacy course. The extraordinary achievements of this
campaign are based on original research undertaken by Bob Boughton and Deborah Durnan from
the University of New England in Armidale NSW.
Now, Bob has brought Yo Si Puedo to the town of Wilcannia in NSW. Each course runs for 10–13
weeks and, once finished, graduates will be provided with opportunities to pursue further studies or
vocational activities based on their new-found literacy skills. Graduates will be supported in this by a
Post-Literacy Coordinator, who will work with local authorities and Wilcannia Central School to
design individual pathways for each participant.
The aim of this pilot project is to assess whether this model can be applied successfully in an
Aboriginal community, and to discover what would be involved in up-scaling it to other regions. If
the pilot proves successful, project leaders anticipate that a full-scale campaign could be rolled out
across many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over a three-year timeframe.
Latest research on Aboriginal literacy show that by the age of 15, more than one-third of Australia’s
Aboriginal students 'do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-
This program is a ray of hope and great news to address our Australian language, literacy and
“If you can read this, thank a teacher.” - Anonymous
1. The Yes I Can method really only works INSIDE the mass campaign model, the way it was done in
Timor-Leste, Bolivia and Venezuela. The campaign is in three phases, with the Yes I Can classes being
the second phase. The first phase, of mobilisation and socialisation, and the third phase, of post
literacy, are equally important. That is the model we are using int he pilot in Wilcannia. If you were
to use Yes I Can as a stand alone 'program', rather than as part of a mass campaign, I doubt it would
work much better than conventional adult literacy programs.
2. The pilot in Wlcannia is being run by the National Aboriginal Adult Literacy Campaign Committee,
which was established with funding from the Lowitja Institute. Jack Beetson is the on-site Aboriginal
project leader. He has two technical advisers, Jose Chala Lebalnch, from Cuba; and Deborah Durnan,
from Australia, who support and train the local facilitators and assist with the overall management
and coordination on site… I am the overall project manager for the Commonwealth funding, and I
3. The NZ and Canadian projects you mention - Greenlight and Arrowmight - are quite different from
Yes I Can, even though IPLAC was also involved in their development.
Interested???, please contact me: [email protected]
Isabel Osuna-Gatty Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council
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