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Education as the practice of freedom: Community mobilization for reduction of Sexual exploitation and abuse of children - Monrovia-Liberia

May 17, 2017

Community mobilizing is always a challenge in particular when administered in a country still recovering from a prolonged and ruthless civil war that has left it with insufficient infrastructure and vulnerable to health hazards and social threats.

In the past few weeks I had the greatest pleasure to be a partner in IsraAID and UNICEF project of community mobilization and activism towards reducing child sexual exploitation and abuse.

My first lesson was that one can do a wonderful job with hardly any technological aid. It urged me to be more creative and more interesting in spite of the heat and the physical conditions.

I could also see that when there is passion in people’s eyes- the project will succeed. Leadership, passion, determination and guidance, is all that is needed. On the other hand, when we met communities who gave up and were resigned and passive, even strong leadership may not be sufficient.

This took me back to Paulo Freire’s “pedagogy of the oppressed” where he refers to “Education as the practice of freedom — as opposed to education as the practice of domination” hanother term he uses for   traditional pedagogy “ banking education” and he states that it “ anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, while problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. The former attempts to maintain the submersion of consciousness; the latter strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality.”

The students — no longer docile listeners — are now critical co-investigators in dialogue with the teacher. The teacher presents the material to the students for their consideration, and re-considers earlier considerations as the students express their own. The role of the problem-posing educator is to create, together with the students”.

The act of actually moving from traditional oppressed pedagogy to learning and discovering is extremely hard with oppressed individuals and communities who have internalized the oppressor and his methods. Shifting from learning by heart to investigating and inquiring needs a lot of patience and self-reflection from the facilitators’ behalf. It is natural for us to speak our mind but what is needed here is guidance and questioning instead of answering. That is what co-creating is all about.