Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire’s work has influenced people working in education, community development, community health and many other fields. Freire developed an approach to education that links the identification of issues to positive action for change and development. While Freire’s original work was in adult literacy, his approach leads us to think about how we can ‘read’ the society around us.

For Freire, the educational process is never neutral. People can be passive recipients of knowledge — whatever the content — or they can engage in a ‘problem-posing’ approach in which they become active participants. As part of this approach, it is essential that people link knowledge to action so that they actively work to change their societies at a local level and beyond.

In the video below, Freire talks about the importance of curiosity, of critical thinking and ultimately of hope. It is a profound reflection on learning.

Many of Freire’s writings are available in English. The most well known of these, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972) has been very influential but new readers of Freire may find The Politics of Education (1985) a more accessible text. Key concepts associated with Freire include the contrast between "banking" education (in which facts are deposited into the minds of passive students) and problem-posing education; the notion of conscientization (which is much more than simply awareness-raising); and the idea of the "culture of silence", in which people are unable to reflect critically upon their world - they become fatalistic and dominated.

A typical feature of Freire-type education is that people bring their own knowledge and experience into the process. Training is typically undertaken in small groups with lively interaction and can embrace not only the written word but art, music and other forms of expression.

Sign Up To The Paulo Freire Formation Programme

Paulo Freire
This is an in-depth online programme for activists, organizers and volunteers committed to social transformation. It provides training for those wanting to become more effective change agents. The six courses are taken online but with live input; those progressing to the next part of the programme will have the option to attend a 5-day 'Intercultural Formation Meeting'. Courses can be taken flexibly according to your needs.

What is included

The Paulo Freire Course Package contains a wealth of material for activists, organizers and change agents everywhere. You will initially have access to our starter course, Paulo Freire and Critical Pedagogy, and the second course Communities and Conflict. Further courses will become available each term, giving six extensive courses in total.

You will receive:

Course 1: Paulo Freire and Critical Pedagogy - an introductory course on Paulo Freire, key themes in his pedagogy and how these might be applied in social analysis, action-research and community-based organizing.

Course 2: Communities and Conflict, incorporating Situation Analysis - understanding your role as an activist, organizer or change agent, and the situation of the organization or institution in which you work or are involved - and Community Analysis, a systematic study of your immediate environment - the community, neighbourhood or town in which you live or work.

Course 3: Work and the Social Economy, incorporating Economic Analysis, an introduction to analysis of the economy at the local, regional and national levels; Sociological Change, the analysis of social groups, classes and sectors; and the Living Conditions Study, an analysis of the real living conditions of people in your country.

Course 4: Culture, Ideology and Politics, incorporating Political Analysis - analysis of the political reality of your country and the key events in the political arena; Faith Communities - understanding how faith communities can act as agents of change, and the forces blocking them; Social Psychology - a study of the collective myths and underlying conflicts in the environment or group with which you work; and Conscientization and Change - tools for analysis of change - how interventions can reinforce or transform the social reality.

Course 5: Globalization and Change - a study of international strategies and the analysis of global trends and resistance movements.

Course 6: Strategy, Planning and Practice - we guide you through the steps you need to take to turn your vision into a plan for concrete action. This module includes an Action Project.

Why you need this programme

If you are involved as a community or political activist, organizer or change agent, the actions you take are never 'neutral'. They may work to further change and transformation, or they may - unintentionally - actually serve to reinforce what you hope to change.

As activists, we have a duty first to understand the contexts in which we are working if we are to be truly effective in transforming the environment around us.

Paulo Freire understood that we had not only to "read the word" but "read the world" in order to become more effective in our actions. The tools and approaches we introduce through this course package have been developed by organizations and activists working in the process of social transformation over many years, going back to the work of Paulo Freire himself.


There are six courses in the package, with up to two course per term; thus you could complete the full programme within a year. However, the flexibility og the programme means that you can choose to take courses as you wish, and if circumstances (such as work or family commitments) prevent you from continuing a course in one term you are able to pick it up the next term.

Term Dates

We are currently part of the way through a term. The new term starts in the week beginning 18 January, 2016. If you join after the term starts you can still access the webinar content, or you may prefer to delay your start until the following term. The programme is very flexible and allows you to take the courses as you wish, with normally a maximum of two courses per term.


The total cost of the programme (all six courses) is just GBP £195 (approx. USD $289, EUR 265) with no additional costs if you register now.