September 2021 marks the centennial of Paulo Freire’s birth, whose contributions to the field of education have advanced struggles to radically transform society. Born in Recife, Pernambuco in 1921, Freire always saw the role of the community and popular organisations as fundamental to the formation of a critical consciousness by the oppressed in order to overcome the realities of domination and dependence.
As part of the various activities around the centenary of Paulo Freire, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, in partnership with the Paulo Freire and Florestan Fernandes National Schools, the publishing house Expressão Popular, and the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), launched a call for posters to be part of the exhibition, ‘To Hope, 100 years of Paulo Freire’. It is a call for artists, graphic designers, and activists to use their creativity to illustrate the many facets behind the work of the Brazilian educator.
The idea is to take advantage of this moment not only to pay tribute to one of the world’s most important thinkers, but also to claim and spread his memory, legacy, and radical thought, which are linked to the struggles for liberation and human dignity.
Freire’s legacy goes beyond Brazil’s borders. He influenced several Latin American countries, such as Chile (where he wrote his most important book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and developed adult literacy programs). He also collaborated with those engaged in struggles for liberation in Africa, visiting various countries across the continent and developing adult literacy programmes in Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania, and Angola. Freire also had a profound influence on popular struggles in South Africa, as we document in our Dossier no. 34.
Taking advantage of one of his main concepts about the need to develop the critical consciousness of individuals so that they can learn to read the world, nothing is more appropriate than to strengthen the intellectual and cultural battle in such dark times through art.
The call for artists ‘To Hope, 100 years of Paulo Freire’ is inspired by the author’s discussion of hope. In Portuguese, the word for ‘hope’ (esperança) contains within it the word that can mean ‘to wait’ (esperar). Freire drew attention to the fact that many treat ‘hope’ as something passive, something that one must wait for. For him, to wait is not in fact to hope: ‘To hope is to get up. To hope is to go after, to build, and to never give up! To hope is to carry on and to join with others to do it differently’.
Therefore, we invite the participation of all artists who look at the world critically, but with hope, so that together we can inspire others to embark on a profound transformative process.
To help with the creative process, we suggest three possible thematic axes for the posters to address:
Why did Paulo Freire’s pedagogy revolutionise the way of thinking about and building education? Why do his ideas bother the powerful so much? The construction of an education with a deep link to the working class and that aims at its emancipation is one of the great legacies that Freire left us. Reflecting about the depth of his ideas and, more than that, putting them into practice, is one of the central tasks of educators and popular fighters today.
How does Paulo Freire’s thought help us reflect about the challenges of the world today? In the context of the pandemic and the economic and political crisis in many nations, Freire’s pedagogy reminds us that only the construction of concrete work with the people and the awakening of their consciousness will make possible a new, more humane horizon for working people. It is necessary to act!
From Latin America to Africa, from Brazil to the world: international solidarity is one of the principles that Freire practiced and carried with him throughout his life. His pedagogy, based on the valorisation of the knowledge of each subject and on the knowledge of the reality of each place, found in many countries a fertile ground to germinate and take root. From the liberation struggles in Africa to universities all over the world, Freire’s ideas have been and continue to be current and necessary in all corners of the planet.
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