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by the Quito working group

The following text gathers an account of the first videoconference carried out by the Another Roadmap for Arts Education research team on March 2, 2015. With this event, as a practice and exercise, we started the construction and debate process of the multi-vocal glossary that is intended to introduce and bring on to open discussion the concepts and key notions that articulate the research on the field of arts education. On the basis of Quito’s team proposal, researchers reflected on the notion of popular education – its nuances, logics, conceptualizations, and transformations- and the diverse locally situated experiences associated with it. This first videoconference was held with the participation of the teams from Bogotá, Barcelona, Zurich, Geneva, and Quito. Below we present the exposed cases, and the delineation of certain particularities of these experiences and coincidences between them.

In the Spanish context, connected to concrete practices of popular education, we identified three important moments: the “Misiones Pedagógicas” of the II Republic (the Mission´s peak period went from 1934 to 1936); the Ateneos, which were worker´s organizations based on literacy and self-education initiatives (the Ateneo´s emerged in the end of the 19th Century. The most important period took place in the 1930’s, it almost disappeared during Franco’s dictatorship, and finally resurfaced in diverse ways, mainly connected to neighborhood demands, and as places for cultural activities and meetings); and the Animación Sociocultural  (which appeared in the 70’s and 80’s was associated with popular education practices and social demands concerning the transition period to a democratic regime).

In Ecuador, as well as in other Latin American countries, the first ideas and experiences referred to popular education emerged in the 60’s and was mostly connected to certain factions of the Catholic Church related to Theology of Liberation. In this sense, and because of the work that the Catholic Church carried out with indigenous and rural communities since the 50’s, the first popular education experiences arose linked to two specific demands:  land possession, and access to education, which then resulted in a demand for intercultural and bilingual education.

In France, the term popular education was applied to a variety of practices that developed outside of the traditional education institutions, and aimed at the improvement of the social system; these practices went from union education to social Christianism and the Scout movements, but the main definition of the term has its roots on the immediate Post Second World War. The experience of the “People and Culture” (Peuple et Culture) group stands out among these practices. It is interesting to point out that popular education in the French context is marked by the debates between the ideas of democratization of culture and cultural democracy.

Relating to Colombian experiences that were discussed, it is evident that those experiences had the influence of the “Movimiento Pedagógico”[1], and participatory research trends in the fields of education and social sciences. Additionally and from a cultural perspective, the work of art collectives and non- formal education groups that centered their actions in literacy and the construction of new audiences was reviewed. This transit between educational and artistic practices is situated in the experience of the contemporary education institutions, where school governance is considered a way in which students have to appropriate and recover certain principles of popular education.

Finally, in German speaking regions, popular education is not a current and relevant concept within the discourses and practices of critical mediation and education. Nonetheless, the term is recognized because of its reference to some historic education worker’s movements since the 19th century. Among these movements, the particular role of museums in popular education stands out. The difference with precedent experiences originates in the fact that popular education concepts developed in Latin American countries in the 60’s and 70’s were received in German speaking countries mainly through Paulo Freire’s work, which are not connected to the term popular education itself, but linked to critical pedagogy (Kritische Pädagogik), emancipation pedagogy (Emanzipatorische Pädagogik), Pedagogy of Liberation (Befreiungs Pädagogik), and Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Pädagogik der Unterdrückten).

In the following section we present coincidences and points of dialogue between the different experiences exposed above on the basis of their conflicts and key discussions.


The relationships between popular education, political struggles and social movements

A key element of almost all of the popular education experiences exposed above is the approach to popular sectors and therefore to their specific conflicts and struggles; this politicizes education practices by making them part of other symbolic and material demands. In some experiences, these bonds are explicitly present from the beginning, while in others these connections are part of the transformation and growth process of the experience itself, and result from the reflections concerning the education practices.

Clearly linked to worker´s struggles, we identify the Ateneos, which emerged during the II Spanish Republic in the 1930’s. These worker’s organizations arose given the lack of official infrastructure for worker’s education, and the need to adapt the contents of traditional learning programs to a worker’s program centered on the idea of emancipation.

The Ateneos discourses and practices were politically oriented as a radical left, and followed principles and ideas from other political trends, such as anarcho-syndicalism, socialism, rationalism, and naturalism; Esperanto was also practiced. Generally, workers developed self-supporting activities which included: publication of newsletters, book and pamphlets publishing, field trips, lectures and conferences, theatre, poetry readings, debates, Esperanto courses, and free access libraries. It is important to stress the creation of women’s groups for self-education: “Mujeres Libres” (20.000 affiliated women in 170 local groups).

The subsequent history of the Ateneos is very unstable and almost invisible. These worker organizations reappeared after Franco’s death in 1975, but their social and political functions were no longer focused on literacy and education. Instead, the Ateneos became meeting places to develop cultural activities, and to deal with neighborhood and union social demands. From 1979 to 1982, these neighbor associations were absorbed and deactivated by leftist parties, in the period known as “El Desencanto” (The Disenchantment). The Nou Barris Ateneo, which resulted from a neighborhood squatting process, belonged to this period. Fortunately, the Ateneos re-emerged at the end of the 80´s in connection to youth movements (punk, okupas): Ateneus Llibertaris de Sants, Gràcia, PobleSec y Cornellà, and the Gaztetxe in the Basque Country. During the 1990´s, these organizations transformed into social centers (some occupied, others not), and were subsequently associated with the anti-globalization movement (Seattle, Chiapas). It is necessary to remark the Ateneos presence in pro-independence movements such as the Catalonian or the Galician movements, which were related to identity issues, and the re-emergence of community management processes that would aim at radical democratic principles and direct citizen participation.

The Animación Socio Cultural (ASC), linked to popular education, appeared after the 60´s in Spain. This movement was connected -in a not visible way- to two political resistance processes:  community life reconstruction in neighborhoods and less privileged zones, and social struggles to resist dictatorship (Úcar Martínez, 2012). The ASC movements were originally framed in cultural democracy, access to cultural rights, and permanent education principles, which afterwards materialized into public policies and the creation of institutions such as popular universities, senior citizens classrooms, and youth houses. This decade was context for discourse construction and consolidation. The Catalonian experience deserves special attention since the ASC there originated in kids and youth recreation activities during the 60´s and 70´s (Muñoz Corvalán, 2012). Nevertheless, the ASC moved from social struggles towards an institutional sense of education actions.

In Ecuador, the work carried out by the Escuelas Radiofónicas Populares del Ecuador (ERPE), in direct connection to indigenous and rural communities, was tied almost from the beginning to two specific social struggles: land possession, and demands for education access, which eventually became demands for intercultural and bilingual education[2].  Land possession struggle made evident the indigenous needs to have access to literacy, which would allow them undertake legal actions concerning land possession, and avoid being scammed when signing documents. Consequently, access to education was a tool for fighting dominant structures, and it was also necessary to articulate redistribution demands made by the incipient indigenous movement in Ecuador.[3]

Furthermore, despite the fact that some people achieved to be included in official education institutions, the system as a whole was shaped under western and exclusive conditions that were far from the needs of the communities, and this also caused a strong acculturation processes.  In response to evidence that traditional schools perpetuated social exclusion, indigenous communities raised the matter of alternative education that would be consistent to their social contexts and their native languages. [4]

Short after beginning transmissions, ERPE became aware that the majority of people who they intended to work with were kichwa native speakers from indigenous communities, and therefore they started to produce radio programs in kichwa. Alberto Conejo (2008) points out that the use of native languages aimed at identity awareness more than it aimed at the use of kichwa with education purposes; however, the use and appreciation of native languages represented fundamental steps towards the integration of demands concerning intercultural and bilingual education.

Concerning Colombia, popular education experiences were connected to the possibilities of establishing an alternative/popular education model inside the school space, an idea that derived from the “Movimiento Pedagógico” (which originated in the Culture Houses founded in the 1940´s). The decisions made and actions taken were determinant to understand the current condition of teachers that were known at that time as “culture workers”, a category that represented a conflictive symbolic burden, as it was distanced from liberal professions. (Miñana, 2009: 60)

It is also important to point out the recommendation relating to the artist’s condition (1980), which defines concrete actions to recognize the social status of artists. The questions and reflections about the relationship between arts and popular education, concerns to the possibilities that arts open other ways of language, and also to diverse and complex ways to approach different fields of action. This was a determining aspect at the moment of elaborating arts education policies in local contexts. Also, appropriation of foreign discourses in the Colombian local context affected institutionalized practices that took place since the 70´s. However, in the field of arts, the most important movements corresponded to those of popular theatre and Latin American theatre. It is important to mention that these matters are directly associated to the “Movimiento Pedagógico” of the 80´s, which led social struggles now reflected in the current situation of teachers.

Concerning French popular education experiences, the link to social struggles -and their political dimension- includes political and cultural revaluation of spare time, in which groups of women, young people and unions would develop spaces for liberating themselves.

These experiences, which emerged in the immediate post Second World War, include: a) “People and Culture” (Peuple et Culture), an organization that imagined popular education as being part of urban planning in a comprehensive way, not as a uniform structure but as proposals adapted to specific needs; and b) Houses of Culture (Féderation de Maisons des Jeunes et de la Culture) that were created in 1948 and became progressively independent from State. In 1960 these houses reached 1200.

In May 1968, in the context of workers and students demonstrations, some Houses of Culture was occupied and new claims were spoken out explicitly connected to the idea of society transformation through culture. Public theaters and Houses of Culture directors gathered to publish the “Declaration of Villeurbanne”, demanding an engaged theater and a real politic for arts education and mediation.

Considering the experiences exposed above, we question ourselves:  ¿What causes the politization/de-politization dynamics within the different experiences? ¿How can we understand the connection between these concrete dynamics and preexistent social issues and struggles? ¿To what extent popular education work can trigger social struggles?





Pedagogical implications of popular education

The different paths and experiences associated with popular education and social struggles have one element in common: they all question traditional education, notions and practices. In this section we present the diverse pedagogical approaches to popular education, in terms of transmission, construction, re-construction and transformation of knowledge. Identifying who teaches and who learns, as a critic exercise of exchange was fundamental to all of the experiences. In addition, almost all of them show evidence that infrastructure, learning resources and tools played an important role in the development of popular education processes.

According to this, it is interesting to analyze the “People and Culture” experience: in 1945 they insisted that past popular education practices remained subordinated to traditional learning methods, so it was necessary to develop new ones. Therefore, popular education methods should not follow those of academic training. Building comprehensive bridges between people and culture demands us to distance ourselves from traditional school methods.

Following the “People and Culture” initiative, these new methods required education technicians and should be based on a psychological approach, leading to a functional pedagogy. The main objective was to “prepare women and men for their individual and social functions”.  Concerning culture, it was fundamental for them to develop “cultural skills” through mental drills.

Regarding the Houses of Youth and Culture, these aimed at young people becoming aware of their needs and possibilities to do things, and expected them to self-educate. There were recreational places which provided different kinds of equipment: sports facilities, meeting spaces, photo labs, etc.; there were also practical learning centers particularly in union contexts – since the objective was to prepare union members to their organizational functions concerning work and spare time-, and popular community centers to establish dialogue between artists and audiences.

The Spanish Ateneos questioned the dissociation expert-non expert, and based on the notions of teaching-learning, learning by doing, adapting knowledge to own needs, and building knowledge for workers emancipation (access to dominant class’s knowledge in order to appropriate it, access to practical and technical knowledge, humanist reflection, and construction of useful knowledge for the working class). Manual labor dignity had to be consistent with cultural dignity: “We do not want to kill. We have superior weapons than machine guns and rifles, we have books; weapons that are more powerful without being fratricidal to obtain the justice regime that we all yearn” (Translated from: Publicación “Nosotros”, portavoz de FAI; Julio 1938).

In pedagogical terms, the experience presented by the Colombian team is different because it took place in an institutionalized space; this is the case of the “Colegio Integrado Campestre Colombia Hoy”[5], which proposed to develop school governance processes with kids. This was an opportunity to analyze the original sense of democracy, the meaning of politics, and the idea of self-government.

They established periodic student assemblies for students to have the opportunity to discuss their ideas and explore their difficulties. In these spaces teachers were mere observers, except when kids asked them to intervene.

These assemblies constituted fundamental learning spaces since students were confronted with the challenge to discuss their issues without following instructions from their teachers or the principal. This practice involved restoring kid’s autonomy to think, evaluating possible outcomes of their actions, and assuming the consequences and mistakes of those actions.

The Ecuadorian experience –ERPE- shows that the adoption of popular education as a process to reflect on education conflicts and demands did not go well together with a process of political reflection on the liberating sense of education. In this sense, it is important to point out that the first period of ERPE, from 1962 to 1974, was called “literacy by radio” (alfabetización por radio). The main objective was to bring the alphabet to indigenous people through traditional literacy programs. Education by radio was established as a means to cover formal education deficiencies.

During the 70´s, ERPE enters its second phase, influenced by Catholic Church transformations in connection to Paulo Frere’s ideas in Latin America, and indigenous organization process. In this new period, ERPE was no longer focused on literacy but on deepening their work in the field of education with popular classes –from our perspective, this produced political/epistemological transformations in the way people approached culture, communication and popular education.

However, concerning the ERPE literacy programs, the way they were produced dissociated political and teaching fields, which meant that text books, for example, included social matters, but the relationship between teachers and learners remained the same in terms of traditional methodologies.

Within ERPE two models and also two teams were converged: one dedicated to continue literacy and tele-education processes from a developmental approach, and other group in close conjunction to the idea of popular education, which was focused on producing programs concerning radio audiences concrete and daily life needs.  The radio programs promoted a close relationship with audiences, at the beginning from a paternalistic standpoint: “to give voice to those who do not have it”. By Then, it was understood that the problem was not that subordinated classes did not have voice, but that these classes did not have the means to make their voices heard. This awareness meant an in depth change in roles and notions that transformed the sense of popular communication and its connection to popular education.

¿What gives the character of popular to education?

To analyze which experiences we refer to as popular education experiences in local contexts, we need to discuss what the sense of popular meant and how it was assimilated in these experiences. The first notion of popular comes from the idea of people, which in Germany was associated with an ethnic and genealogic unit: “Volk”. This notion was connected to scientific racism in the 19th Century, and substantiated Nazism crimes. Based on the notion of “Volk” there is not a concept for popular that can be left unquestioned (Nora Landkammer).

In the rest of the experiences, the first reference to popular seems to be tied to the idea of popular classes, and to specific characteristics related to these classes. Generally, popular is reduced to a less privileged class expression. From this perspective, everything regarding marginalized classes was considered “popular”.

The more paternalistic experiences were based on the idea that popular classes needed to be provided with education and culture by other social groups –more privileged ones-. This notion framed the work carried out by the Catholic Church in Spain in the 1930´s, where religious groups intended to dignify worker’s lives through work morals and religious indoctrination. Something similar happened in Ecuador and Colombia during the 50´s and 60´s: literacy and evangelism by radio was associated to a developmental belief that access to education would allow indigenous people to achieve better job opportunities.

In Latin American countries, those perspectives transformed during the course of the different experiences. Certain sectors of the Catholic Church developed political awareness influenced by Freire´s ideas, which allowed them think popular not only in terms of being part the audience.[6]


“…it was not just about popular education and communication; it was –following Freire´s ideas- about popular classes being protagonists of communication and education processes (…) The concept of popular was interactive, transversal, participative; popular radios in the 60´s and 70´s defined their programs on the basis of a main objective: giving voice to people, so they participate and denounce…” (Excerpt taken and translated from an interview with Ignacio López Vigil)

At the same time, what is comprehended as popular in Colombia has been affected by violent conflicts and a non-declared war situation. This became evident in recent art plans “Música para la convivencia, conciertos para la paz”, and in a number of activities focused on victim’s recovery after conflicts.

In Spain, besides the work developed by the Catholic Church, during the Second Republic, the “Misiones Pedagógicas”[7] were also created. These were focused on literacy and improvement of cultural and education levels in less privileged groups (people from rural areas, workers, and people with no access to formal institutions). Missions originated in the “Museo Pedagógico Nacional de Madrid” in 1882, which was founded by krusistas and focused on the promotion of sciences and humanities pedagogy.

In these processes, the notion concerning popular became more complex, distanced from traditions, and opposed to hegemonic structures. It is interesting to analyze and problematize how the idea of people and popular is understood. In fact, it starts to determine practical and concrete actions in order to build experiences.


Connections between popular education, popular culture and high culture

Another element to analyze is the link between popular education experiences and the field of the arts and culture. In the experiences exposed above, we can identify a concern about the way these experiences could be associated with an approach to culture. The questions were ¿How is culture understood? And, ¿How are the ways these education experiences approach cultural expressions, not only in terms of democratization but also aiming at participation and access to cultural production?

This concern can be clearly identified in France, particularly in the work carried out by the group “People and Culture”, created in 1945 by workers, union members, engineers, students, professors and artists. Their objective was to “set foundations, according to current reality, of real education for masses and elites”, and to eliminate the distance between people and culture. They believed that artists needed to find new methods to dialogue with wider audiences, and these methods could not be developed inside art academies.

In addition, the work of Houses of Culture –since 1961, André Malraux (Minister of Culture) opened Houses of Culture with the idea of decentralizing culture through the increase of occasions people met culture-  did not consider what the content of culture was and how it was produced. In contrast, the idea of Cultural Action (Acción Cutural), which emerged in May 68, advocated people´s direct participation through culture. They stated that: “We deliberately refuse any conception of culture where it would be the object of a mere transmission”.

It is interesting to analyze this conflict in the particular role of museums in popular education experiences in Germany. Andreas Kuntz, in his studies on the use of museums in popular education, described the activities of the bourgeois/liberal Volkbildung associations that existed in Germany between the end of the 19th Century and 1930, and characterized them as activities that developed between emancipation and domination.[8] His analysis evidence historical development: towards the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th, visits to museums and touring museums, and construction of popular museums followed the idea of appropriating knowledge for emancipation (bourgeois/liberal idea of emancipation); subsequently, the concepts of “admiration” and “observance” prevailed. In these activities, masses should know renowned works of art, technology and science, but they were not supposed to use them, they were only expected to admire the creators and know their own place. At the same time, learning own knowledge, tradition and local culture was reinforced (Heimatmuseen, local/regional museums. The name could be translated as homeland museums.)

In regards to Spain and the relationship between education and culture, in the “Misiones Pedagógicas” important intellectuals altruistically collaborated with poets, musicians, artists, educators and philosophers such as Federico García Lorca, Rafael Alberti, Luis Cernuda, Carmen Conde, María Moliner and María Zambrano. Additionally, there participated students, teachers, librarians, teaching inspectors, physicians and other professionals. The Missions organized exhibitions, poetry recitals, plays, and recreational activities focused on literacy and instruction for people from rural regions.

Cutural promotion developed through the creation of libraries[9], film projections[10], performances with the “Coro y Teatro del Pueblo”, “retablo de fantoches”, concerts, popular and classis music sessions using gramophones, the traveling “Museo Del Pueblo” that rewarded people with photographic reproductions, painting exhibitions, real size copies of paintings of Spanish artists from 15th century to 19th century, and engravings.

In order to introduce popular notions and distance from paternal practices, Cossío stated: “I have a lot of enemies in this project, and I would not want the idea of taking these treasures that we Spanish have to be distorted. I want to show them to people that have never seen them, because they own them too. But I do not want to give any lesson; I just want people to know these treasures exist, and although they are in the Prado Museum, they are also theirs.” (Translated from: López, 2007: 94)

Viñao commented that, during their few years of existence, the “Misiones Pedagógicas” evolved, in contact to reality, from an original pattern that was education-instructive, recreational-civic, to a less instructive and creative pattern, based on popular recreation and improvement of sanitation and socio-economic conditions in places where the Missions carried out their activities. This was not planned from the beginning. The Spanish “Misiones Pedagógicas” emerged as a project to take high-urban culture to rural zones in Spain, but became something wider and more complex because the Missions integrated elements and notions from cultural practices in popular areas. This process implied a transformation in the dynamic of production and distribution of cultural goods because it recognized the value of cultural practices developed by peoples in rural areas.

In this sense, there are coincidences with certain considerations emerged in the popular education experience carried out by ERPE in Ecuador. In this experience, popular education practices transformed the way culture was understood. In the 60´s the objective was to bring culture –with capital C- to those who have not had access to it, so for example, the radio transmitted classical music during the hours when classes were not transmitted.  In the 70´s, the notion of culture became wider, and it was understood that people from rural regions are not a blank slate. This did not imply to leave classical music –or other cultural expressions that people from rural areas did not have access to- aside. Nevertheless, it meant new considerations on popular culture and its education functions, which was included in radio programs. (María Cianci, Interview: 2013)

Basing on questions that concern us as part of the research groups, we ask ourselves: ¿How can we imagine the relationship between people involved in culture (not only artists) and wider audiences? ¿What are the implications?


¿What is the influence or current validity of popular education?

Popular Education today, in the French context, is still affected by debates and confrontation between democratization of culture and cultural democracy. This is a currently controversial debate; two publications have been produced in this decade concerning popular education: a special issue of Cassandre Magazine in 2013, and another one in Magazine Politics in 2000.

In the second publication, Jacques Bertin defines Popular Education as:

“[…] the education that is not framed in traditional structure of family, school or university. […] education within “the time of leisure”, yes, but with the conscious practice of a group life, of confrontation, of sharing […] the one that doesn’t limit to “high culture” […] finally, it’s the learning of citizenship that is not just politicization but an active practice: the art to speak in public, to be able to listen, to manage a group, to integrate in society…”

Moreover, echoing the “People and Culture” manifest of 1945, he considers subversion as key mission of popular education, granting it a specific role in neoliberal societies,

“By any angle we approach the issue, the conclusion which stands out is: popular education cannot escape its profound vocation: subversion […] that, the business sector will never do.”

Popular education – with this conception or not – is still currently taking place in many different structures today in French speaking area of course – popular universities, workers universities, clubs, community houses, cultural centers, etc. We can note that in France, an official status of “éducation populaire” exists and was given for example to ATTAC[11] for its activities.

And finally, we must note that important structures for popular education today are the schools managed and/or run by migrant people. A defense/ rediscovery of ‘mother tongues’ is at the core of several popular education structures (Escolas calandretas for Occitan, Bressola for Catalan…) challenging the centralized approach of culture that was long the project of French government. And this would make an interesting connection to our research about Paulo Freire in Geneva, as Freire is talking, in Pedagogy of Hope, about his dialogue with Spanish workers in Geneva, who were running a school for their children not to be indoctrinated by the Swiss school system.

Popular education concepts developed in Latin America in the 60´s and 70´s were received in German speaking countries mainly through Paulo Freire´s work. These notions were not associated with the term “popular education” itself; however they were connected to the concepts of critical pedagogy (Kritische Pädagogik), pedagogy of emancipation (emanzipatorische Pädagogik), pedagogy of liberation (Befreiungs pädagogik) or pedagogy of the oppressed (Pädagogik der Unterdrückten). Partially in a direct way, and partially through further concepts from Anglo-American critical pedagogy (Giroux, McLaren, Ellsworth) that are currently reference to critical teachers and mediators in German discourses[12], the history of this reception and the relevance that Freire´s ideas would have in current local experiences –affected by migration conflicts- is part of the research carried out by the Swiss team in the Another Roadmap School.

In the Spanish experience of ASC (“Animación Socio-Cultural”), since the middle of the 90´s and the decade of 2000, it seems that the notions of social transformation, long term work and transformation practice were lost.  Professional paradigms went from social transformation to consensual and celebratory practices. Finally, there was separation between promoters of ASC as a space for education and cultural practices, and the version of ASC that resulted in promotion and cultural management.  These two poles generated a clear contrast between 1) social policy with socio-cultural workers, and social educators linked to popular culture movements, spare time and pedagogical renovation, and 2) cultural policy with presence of cultural managers, and the paradigm of culture and communication (Delgado, 1988; Úcar Martínez, 2012).

In regards to Ecuador and Colombia, it could be interesting, as research proposal, to analyze the situation of institutionalization in popular education experiences, and what is the state of debate concerning this process.


To debate

Analyzing concrete practices concerning popular education allows us to consider the coincidences and disagreements between what these experiences proposed in pedagogical, political and practical terms.


a)      The Colombian team proposed the following questions


  • One of the ideas that prevailed concerns audience construction (beyond literacy in general) and its connection to cultural management and undertaking strategies that leave aside the debate about communities´ real appropriation of education processes. Therefore, the question is:

¿What happens with the spaces that were originally founded to liberate the citizen, the subject, and have subsequently transformed into provider of cultural services, leaving activism aside?

  • Considering what were exposed before in general terms, it is relevant to carefully consider practices that are called collaborative and community practices. The first are in style in the field of arts, the second ones are present in the field of education, which in Colombia has been influenced by Fals Borda´s work in participative research.

¿How do the ways that school practices assimilated in popular education experiences dialogue with spheres outside schools?


b)      The team from Quito proposed the following reflections concerning popular education experiences and practices:




Popular Education, social movements and institutionalization

After recognizing the paths of the experiences exposed, we can understand popular education as an empowerment process over learning practices, that is intended to subvert and transform power relationships.    From this standpoint, we can see that popular teachers position themselves in different places of proximity or distance in front of the possibility of institutionalization and demands from social movements, depending on what -strategically speaking- this produces for social aspirations.



  1. ¿How does the relationship of distance or proximity to institutionalization –or the possibility of institutionalization- reinvent, renew and/or re-direct the strategies for critical and reflexive exercises concerning their own education practices?
  2. ¿How do popular teachers assume power positions given by institutionalization?


Methodologies -Strategies- Materials

The experiences exposed above go through different political moments that involved diverse social actors. Each experience has to create education ways and strategies consistent to these contexts and specific disputes.




  1. ¿How has the popular education discourse transformed –or not-, in front of these moments, the construction of methodologies, strategies and materials to deal with learning relationships in concrete practices?



In a contemporary context, where education policies are imposed from supranational institutions (UNESCO) or are tied to developmental State policies, local and engaged education experiences have been unrecognized. Besides, we have the impression that organization and social movements (and their politicized learning spaces) do not necessarily aim at institutionalization within the State, but intend to co-exist or avoid this tutelage. In this sense, to open other spaces (of social transformation) connected to construction of common and self-management.



  1. ¿Where can we see alive inheritance of popular education experiences, and how are these processes active in each specific context?


Coordination first video conferencing / multi-voices glossary / popular education: Quito working group. Anahi Macaroff; Valeria Galarza; María Dolores Parreño; Alejandro Cevallos. Video conference participants: Barcelona working group. Javier Rodrigo.  Zurich- Genéve working group Olivier Desvoignes; Nora Landkammer. Bogota working group. Monica Marcell Romero; Marcela Garzon


[1]The Bucaramanga Congress (1982) made a political decision in promoting the “Movimiento Pedagógico” as part of a new period in the history of Fecode, and started the proposal construction. Based on this objective, it called together education researchers, school teachers’ groups and organizations, and teachers in general to develop the movement. The objectives were defined and presented in the Educación y Cultura magazine (1 July, 1984): 1. To make collective reflections –through discussions, workshops, seminars, writing and distribution of articles- about identity and the cultural role of teachers, and the set of relationships (with students, parents, communities, popular movements, etc.) in which teachers are involved.  This reflection aimed at a more consciously oriented pedagogical practice that could help clarify and set the idea of education in the service of popular classes. The Centro de Promoción Ecuménica y Social –Cepecs-, and the Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular –Cinep- Dimensión Educativa y Foro Nacional por Colombia are taken into account.


It’s important to understand that until the 60´s, the hacienda form of production characterized the agrarian structure in almost all of the Ecuadorian highland regions. This form of production was based on the monopoly of land and rent withdrawal (work and production) from workers who were organized in the huasipungo system: indigenous families had to live and work in haciendas almost all of the week, and the remaining days they could work the land that landowners assigned them to support their living (Guerrero, 1991). Landowners widely benefited from this system. In Chimborazo, indigenous people lived under poverty and exploitation conditions that materialized into growing demands for agrarian reforms.

[3] By this period we cannot refer to a structured indigenous movement as we know it now. Nevertheless, these first social struggles will constitute the basis for the indigenous movement in the 80´s.

[4] Pablo Dávalos points out that access to dominant culture opened up the possibility to understand the semantics of domination. In this sense, the author considers that education was and still is a political action. Besides understanding dominant culture codes, it was necessary to recover and rebuild ancestral knowledge, which has nothing to do with them. From this perspective, recovering and rebuilding ancestral knowledge meant in fact recovering and rebuilding subjects.


[5] This is a private institution that advocated the possibility to propose an alternative education model in opposition to public Education.


[6] The II Vatican Council had a determinant influence within the Latin American Catholic Church. Before the Council, Catholics were taught that their main obligation was to remain in state of grace to reach heaven. However, thanks to the II Council, the Catholic Church connected to human matters, and not just to matters of the soul. (Gutiérrez, 1995). After the Council, the 1967 Encyclical “Populorum Progressio” –concerning people development-, focused on Third World countries development issues. The Encyclical made strong critics to the international economic system and afterwards a group of eighteen priests mainly from Brazil, made a statement that went far from what the Pope had stated, and that is how Theology of Liberation was born. This group had positive considerations concerning social revolution. Therefore, they appropriated the following statement during the II Council: Real socialism is the Christian one, fully and equally experienced, and with adequate distribution of goods. (Francois Houtart, 1007)


[7] The “Misiones Pedagógicas” were created by Decre of the Ministry of Public Instruction and Fine Arts on May 29 1931 through the Popular Culture Service of the Republic.


[8] Kuntz, Andreas (1976). Das Museum als Volksbildungsstätte. Museumskonzeptionen in der Volksbildungsbewegung in Deutschland zwischen 1871 und 1918, Marburg: MarburgerStudienkreisfürEuropäischeEthnologie E.V.


[9] In 1935, the number of libraries reached 5000, and more than 500.000 books were shared out.


[10] 174 films: scientific outreach documentaries that covered knowledge in: –geography, natural sciences, agricultural sciences, history of industries, basic sanitation principles, cartoons, fictional movies (Chaplin´s movies), etc. Images of rural customs, landscapes and people were also compiled.


[11] Asociación por una Tasa sobre las Transacciones especulativas financieras y por la Acción Ciudadana.

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