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Weaving a Public Education that Transforms the World

Declaration of theHemispheric Forum

The Initiative for Democratic Education in America – IDEA, together with students, teachers, education activists and social and trade union organizations of the Americas, commemorate the life and legacy of Paulo Freire. Freire was a great advocate for emancipatory education to build societies with social justice and democracy. We seek to deepen the knowledge of his work, and recognize the pedagogical experiences inspired by his thought and developed in the daily struggles of students, teachers and communities in defense of education as a social right, generating critical, humanistic and transformative thinking. 

The disastrous impacts of 40 years of neoliberal privatization of social rights has generated a major economic crisis that has converged with the health crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, and forces us to think differently about what is needed for a society to flourish and prosper. We must rethink education so that it’s science and technology are not devoted to a colonialism that aims to develop a specific kind of global citizen, and instead values teaching and learning rooted in local communities.  We seek an education that generates knowledge and skills to question and critically challenge structures of power and privilege – an education centred on meaningful relationships, rather than commercial interests. 

Recognizing the reality we live in the Americas, the struggles and resistances that have taken place during the pandemic, is essential for understanding what is at play and where we have to go. 

We believe that it is urgent to envision another possible education; to open dialogues on the great challenges we face today and weave networks that allow us to self-reflect and build public education to achieve the emancipation of humanity in a post-pandemic world.  We must collectively draw political lines of action to fight for the education we want. An “education that transforms people and the world,” to quote Paulo Freire’s famous phrase.

Freirean thought has inspired diverse experiences of popular education. In the Americas there are practices of emancipating education that have emerged in light of the struggles for the right to education, and the need for education to address injustices and inequalities. 

We reaffirm that in the construction of knowledge there are no formulas. That is why in this Forum, held October 20 and 21, 2021, we speak of weaving together the threads of a public education that our peoples need, based on the principle of dialogue within this diversity of experiences. 

The nature of public education is in dispute. We believe that it is urgent to build alternatives that redefine its meaning and reaffirm its public, democratic, emancipatory, non-sexist and socially just character.

For the above reasons, we, the participants of the Forum, declare that:

  • Pedagogy must be at the center of public debate. We must recreate the experiences of alternative education built throughout the Americas and work to prioritize lines of education policy that guarantee the right to education, over policies that conceive it as a commodity or a simple service.
  • We will strengthen links between teachers, their unions, and communities to develop humanist, critical, scientific and creative education that defends life and nature, and where art and culture are at the service of our peoples. 
  • We demand that nation states generate legal norms and regulatory systems that prevent transnational corporations from commercializing education.
  • We will defend labour rights won thanks to the struggles of education workers and the social movement. Likewise, guarantee the rights of children and youth to public education, with universal and free access from pre-school to higher education, expanding the demands and coverage in those places where inhumane teaching and learning conditions persist.
  • We call on our states to better working conditions for teaching, and provide comprehensive health care, equipment and infrastructure, together with the improvement of the living conditions of the student population and their families, especially those in vulnerable situations.
  • To ensure the above, we demand from our states greater funding for health and education. 
  • We call on our governments to establish the Internet as a public utility. Access to the Internet as a social right and users should not be required to surrender their privacy and personal data to corporations to be able to access it. The “free services” offered by these transnationals come at too high a price, and serve as trojan horses for the imposition of market values and neo-colonial hegemonic principles.

In the face of social and educational inequality in this centennial of the birth of Paulo Freire, visionary promoter of emancipatory education, we declare ourselves in pedagogical insurgency for a free, secular, democratic, non-sexist and inclusive public education a social right of our peoples.

We recognize the urgent need to promote local, national, and regional actions across the Americas, linking of our struggles with the collective construction of critical pedagogies. 

We commit to mobilize in solidarity to challenge the new spaces of power at the global level and to promote the transformation of democratic societies with true social justice.

Initiative for Democratic Education in the Americas – IDEA Network

October 21, 2021

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