The Enduring Legacy Of Paulo Freire's Progressive Education Model

The Enduring Legacy Of Paulo Freire's Progressive Education Model
"As opposed to the mythicizing practices of the dominant elites, the dialogical theory requires that the world be unveiled” (Freire 168). Paulo Freire is a famous radical educationist of Latin America, he introduced a seminal and revolutionary idea of non-formal education to educate the poor masses in the world. He emphasized that the purpose of education should be problem-solving and critical thinking.

He has introduced Mao’s “Theory of Knowledge” in his famous book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” where he tries to develop a dialectical relationship between oppressor and oppressed. According to him, the formal system of education is based on the Banking model in which the teacher is the source of knowledge and wisdom and student or pupil is considered an empty vessel, whereas, a teacher has to pour his knowledge into that vessel; but Freire rejected this notion of education by saying that this model of education is in the service of bourgeois and hence promotes status quo rather than bringing equality and humanization in the society.

An oppressed cannot think about freedom and humanization and if an oppressed subject struggles to attain freedom from his oppressor, then due to duality in his consciousness, his struggle fails or he changes into an oppressor. So, Freire believes that for true humanization of the oppressed there is a continuous need for dialogues between leaders of struggle and oppressed people for whose emancipation they are fighting. He explores the idea of humanization and dehumanization of oppressed or poor masses of any society. According to Freire, “the oppressor, who is himself dehumanized because he dehumanizes others, is unable to lead this struggle” (p. 47).

As Louis Althusser describes the role of schools and education to develop the consciousness [interpellation of subject–internalizing of culture or ideology] in his famous essay, "Ideological State Apparatuses" (ISAs). According to this essay, the sole purpose of school education is to create adhesion for ruling elites among the poor masses but Freire has taken this mission ahead to understand that how education is continuous cause of exploitation and dehumanization of poor oppressed masses by their oppressors. In his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, he has dissected the educational system and shows how the “banking concept of education” perpetuates the slavery and dehumanization of the oppressed in any society.

Freire believes that if ‘oppressed’ wants to get freedom and humanization then they have to reject the banking system of education and should apply problem-solving dialogue-based education. He rejects the Anti-dialogical theory of education because this education is based on the banking model of education. To humanize a society, there is a need to understand a society through critical thinking which is retarded by banking model of education.

According to Freire, the banking model or anti-dialogical education is necrophilic because it controls the thinking power of men and women and also kills their creative abilities and hence it serves the interests of oppressors because it is based on ‘mechanistic, static, naturalistic, spatialized view of consciousness, it transforms students into receiving objects’(p. 77).

In place of the Banking Model of education, he introduces a Dialogical or critical thinking based education system that focuses upon the problem solving of society. According to him, the revolutionary leaders must go to the people develop a dialogue with them and then develop courses to teach them so that poor masses are prepared to bring real change in society and humanization of dehumanisation could be possible.

Freire has brought our awareness to the ailing system of education and looking through his lens, it can be easily understood that Pakistan’s education system is the best example of anti-dialogical and banking model of education where students are just changed into crammers and ‘stereotype passive objects’, not free thinkers or organic intellectuals; who can bring change in some society. Apart from this, education has become a business in producing dull and drab thought-process by snubbing the creative abilities to serve the interests of a particular oppressor class. The syllabus defined by the board and courses, content taught by teachers is strictly confined and only a rote learner can survive by taking effective grades. Rote learning cannot help in problem-solving and the development of critical thinking and it just changes people into passive and fatalistic objects rather than creative subjects. The traditional model of education is only creating a class of oppressed and only a privileged few are given the education causing them to feel superior and thus, creating a class of oppressors.

Pakistan needs a dialogic form of education, where open discussion can let to evolve creative abilities. According to Freire, the revolutionary leaders should go into dialogues with the oppressed people and understand the problems of the oppressed in the Pakistani society and then develop a curriculum or pedagogy to resolve these problems so that people can directly engage in their process of liberation and humanization.

In Pakistan, efforts were made to introduce the idea of Paulo Freire dialogue-based education through rural education programs like FEPRA (Functional Education Projects for Rural Areas), BFEP (Basic Functional Education Program), ILP (Islamabad Literacy Program) and Literacy Programs like IFLP (Integrated Functional Literacy Program) were started in Pakistan for non-formal learners and objectives of such programs was to help the rural masses to learn and put into practice things which will be of functional use in their everyday life for the improvement of their economic condition, general health, social conditions and standard of living.

One suggestion that could help to make Pakistan educational system more creative and critical is to have at least one class in the whole week of creative problem-solving. This class will highlight problems regarding social, legal and others to the students and let their personality engage in the creative struggle to sort out solutions. This will only be a student-centred approach where the unconscious and hidden talents will spring out from the students. Thus, the pedagogy of the oppressed will helps to regain the lost freedom of our nation and oppressed people. A curriculum should be planned to enhance the dialogic approach and then our country can cherish the true fruits of democracy and the process of humanization and freedom will begin and there will be more human beings rather than classes of oppressors and oppressed.

The writer is a lecturer at the government college of technology and also a research scholar in literature and social studies, currently working for the rights of women and social justice for the marginalized in Pakistani society. She is also a book critique. She can be reached at