International Review of Education

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 545–558 | Cite as

Freire, literacy and emancipatory gender learning



The contributions to education of one of the great Latin American thinkers, Paulo Freire, have been enormous. His voice and wisdom have inspired educators globally. Three particular contributions – to emancipation, to literacy, and to dialogue – are explored in this article through a critical lens. From a gender perspective, Freire’s path to consciousness-raising is crucial for emancipation but so also is empowerment, a notion contributed by the women’s movement. Adult literacy, Freire’s vehicle to raise consciousness, has been challenged by a recognition of the complexity underlying its acquisition, a factor we still have to incorporate in training and teaching programmes. Dialogical approaches in adult education, essential as they are to the attainment of deeper understanding of social phenomena and the possibility of consensual social action, build on a long trajectory of efforts to use public space for collective advancement. Situating Freire against a denser historical background enables the recognition of his merits and at the same time rescues the confluence of similar perceptions as well as different ideas in the construction of our contemporary world.


Literacy Gender Culture circles Freire Empowerment 


Freire, alphabétisation et apprentissage émancipateur à l’équité entre les sexes – Les contributions à l’éducation de l’un des grands penseurs latino-américains, Paulo Freire, sont immenses. Sa parole et sa sagesse inspirent des éducateurs dans le monde entier. Trois de ses contributions – à l’émancipation, à l’alphabétisation et au dialogue – sont soumises dans le présent article à un examen critique. S’agissant de l’équité entre les sexes, la démarche de Freire en faveur de la conscientisation est décisive pour l’émancipation, mais tout autant l’autonomisation, notion émanant du mouvement féministe. L’alphabétisation des adultes, pour Freire vecteur permettant d’accroître la prise de conscience, comporte le défi de tenir compte de la complexité de son acquisition, facteur que nous devons encore intégrer dans les programmes de formation et d’enseignement. Les approches dialogiques de l’éducation des adultes, aussi essentielles qu’elles soient pour mieux comprendre les phénomènes sociaux et conduire à une action sociale consensuelle, dépendent d’une longue série d’efforts pour exploiter l’espace public en vue du développement collectif. Positionner Freire dans un contexte historique plus dense permet de reconnaître ses mérites, mais aussi d’intégrer des perceptions similaires et des idées différentes dans la construction de notre monde contemporain.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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