“There is no such thing as a neutral education process,” writes Richard Shaull in his 1968 Forward to Paulo Freire’s classic Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The “banking model” of education promotes conformity and dehumanization, Freire contends, while a “liberating” education promotes freedom.
Given those options, we’d all prefer the “liberating” education. Freedom is better than dehumanization, surely!
Except, it’s not that easy. A truly liberating education is more demanding on the teacher, often requires greater resources, and is at odds with many of the education world’s exams and assessments. As a result, the global poor, those arguably most in need of a liberating education, nearly universally receive an education designed to enforce conformity and compliance. The largest, best funded, and most influential global education initiatives aim not to alter this fact, but merely to achieve it slightly more efficiently.
What would a true, liberating education in a poor African community feel like? How would it operate? What questions would it ask? What answers would it unearth?
When African School for Excellence (ASE) opened in 2013 in the disadvantaged Tsakane township outside Johannesburg, its founders aimed to discover a learning model that could provide world-class education on a developing-world budget. In the process, they found they were faced with an even more fundamental challenge: how to deliver an empowering education in an environment and a system designed to do the opposite.
Jay Kloppenberg, one of ASE’s Founders, will lead an interactive discussion into how ASE has gone about this undertaking, where it has succeeded, and where it still has more work to do.