Popular Education and Reflect


One of the tasks of our journal is to inform our readers about developments in the science and methods of adult education. It is our hope that articles dealing with this theme will help to advance the debate on suitable methods and concepts in the search for coherent approaches in the field – approaches that need to be tested and retested in practice.

Adult education works at the grassroots level and caters to the needs of the underprivileged. It does not seek to set goals for learners, but rather to support them in articulating their own goals in a process of dialogue. This approach is inextricably linked with the name Paulo Freire, the best known and most influential representative of “Popular Education”.

Many years after his death, his teachings still provide the basis for the most widely followed and respected approach to adult education in Latin America, and they are increasingly being put into practice in other regions of the world as well. Building on Freirian methods, the British organization ActionAid developed the “Reflect” approach, which stands for “Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques”. The approach is currently being used by over 500 organizations in more than 70 countries of the world. Adapting the method to other cultural contexts, however, is not an automatic process. It can serve to generate any number of new models in attempts to integrate participatory components into conventional methods and traditions – often with only a superficial level of interaction.

Nydia González has been a staunch advocate of Popular Education for decades. She is the director of the Cuban Asociación de Pedagogos de Cuba as well as of the Colectivo de Investigación Educativa “Graciela Bustillos” (CIE), an NGO of which she is also the founder. Alongside her other numerous positions, she serves as honorary president of CEAAL.

Nélida Céspedes Rossel is also a veteran in the cause of Popular Education in Latin America. She is the incumbent president of CEAAL for the term 2009 – 2012. Her name will always remain closely associated with the prestigious Peruvian nongovernment organization TAREA.

Moussa Gadio is an adult educator from Mali who is actively engaged in the planning and implementation of small projects. From 2009 through 2011, he was a Fulbright scholar at Northern Illinois University.

Lamphoune Luangxay is the head of the literacy division of the Laotian Ministry of Education’s Department for Non-formal Education. Mathias Pfeifer, currently a junior consultant in Laos, is an adult educator and sociologist who has conducted research on the Reflect method.