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, and 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 Paulo Freire’s philosophy of education has had a profound impact on people throughout the world working for social change. His work has been applied not only to formal educational settings but to many diverse social movements. This is an introductory course looking at key themes in Paulo Freire's work, some of the thinkers relevant to the development of critical pedagogy, and applications of Freire's work in different fields.

Course 2: Communities and Conflict, a course examining ideas of what we mean by community, its relevance as an organizing concept and the role of conflict. The course considers our roles as activists, organizers or change agents, and the situation of the organizations or institutions in which we work or are involved. We also think about the idea of community analysis, a systematic study of our immediate environment - the community, neighbourhood or town in which we live or work.

Course 3: Work and the Social Economy, a course on economic factors related to humanization and progress. Economics is at root about the organization of material and technical resources to meet human needs. This course is an introduction to key concepts such as work, well-being, the social economy and human needs.

Course 4: Culture, Ideology and Belief, a course on understanding how social movements and faith communities can act as agents of change, and the forces blocking them; the collective myths and underlying conflicts in the environment or groups with which we work; and tools for the analysis of change - how interventions can reinforce or transform the social reality.

Course 5: Power, Policy and Politics - a course examining models of power and authority, theories of change, and the idea of developing a strategic approach to change. The course includes aspects of strategy, planning, resource allocation, building alliances, tactics and implementation.

Course 6: Globalization and Change - a study of globalization. Globalization has impacted on our lives not just economically but also technologically, culturally and politically.  In this course we study international strategies, global institutions, global trends and international resistance movements.


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 moving to a new platform in May 2017, from which time courses will be offered throughout the year.


The cost of the full programme is GBP £295, but alternatively you will be able to take any of the six individual courses for GBP £99 each.

Wait List

New registrations will be accepted soon. Please sign up to be notified when registrations open.

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