Popular Education: Education for Liberation

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Chapter 2: Literature Review

“The unfinished character of human beings and the transformational character of reality necessitate that education be an ongoing activity.”
(Freire, 2005, p. 84)


This chapter introduces the concept of an educational journey. Research suggests that education and learning take place across an individual’s lifetime and over different educational sites – formal, non-formal and informal. The provision of formal education on commercial farms in South Africa is unpacked before attempting to understand other educational sites, such as non-formal and informal education. The research concludes that the education that takes place in each site contributes to the person’s individual biography – the person’s lifetime of experiences – which in turn enhances their “knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, beliefs, emotions and other senses” to create the whole human being (Jarvis, 2004, p.106).
The focus of the study is on the non-formal education sites that have popular education as their intent. The work of Paulo Freire (2005) is reviewed to understand his seminal text “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” – education theory aimed to understand and transform the conditions of oppression into freedom. Freire’s (2005) theory is deconstructed according to three layers – the underlying principles of praxis, the education methods it uses to teach, and the emotions and values that it creates.
Freire (2005) believes that through praxis – reflection and action – education can be directed to “transform the world” (Freire, 2005, p. 87). This type of action is located within the broader conversation of activism. To give meaning to this term, the study draws on the work of Rancière (1999), Stoecker (1995) and Scott (1989).
Rancière (1999, p. 30) argues that politics occurs when the oppressed act on the knowledge that there is “equality of any speaking being with any other speaking being”. Using his theory, the study defines activism as the moments when female farm activists presume their equality to those who possess power, and in doing so; insist on their right to human dignity. This presumption of equality takes place in the organised spaces and across different levels – from the personal to the public (Stoecker, 1995). These presumptive acts also occur in hidden actions, a phenomenon that Scott (1989, p. 33) calls “everyday forms of resistance”. Lastly, the literature is synthesised.

Educational Journeys – From the Front-end Model to Lifelong Learning

The front-end education model on commercial farms in South Africa

What is education, when and how does it take place? For most, education is perceived as formal, compulsory education offered by the state. This can best be understood using the figure below.
Jarvis (2004) refers to this as the front-end model of education. The assumption is that the education that takes place during an individual’s formative years is sufficient for the rest of their lives. For this reason, the front-end model is also known as initial education and is synonymous with formal schooling. Combs and Ahmed (1974) describe formal schooling as “the highly institutionalised, chronologically graded and hierarchical ‘education system’ spanning (a period from) lower primary school to the upper reaches of the university” (cited in Jarvis, 2004, p. 40). It can also refer to education that has been institutionalised in its structure and in its process – the teaching and learning method (Jarvis, 2004).
On commercial farms in South Africa, paternalistic social relations also extended to the provision of formal schooling. Education on farms was designed to meet the economic needs of the farm by creating a readily available and productive pool of farm labour. Schools on farms kept children occupied, while their parents worked. Farm children also supplemented farm labour during peak seasons. Farm schools also discouraged the migration of farm workers, as parents were less likely to migrate to the cities if their children were educated on the farm (HRW, 2004).
Even though farm schools were on private land, they were the responsibility of the state and were classified as “state-aided schools” (HRW, 2004, p. 5). The Department of Education supplied the teachers’ salaries and accommodation, learning materials, furniture, and subsidised the school buildings and infrastructure. However, the farmer was in full control of school management and enrolment, and he had the power to select teachers (Atkinson, 2007; HRW, 2004). The White Paper 1995 (cited in HRW, 2004, p. 48) notes the farmers’ powers in the provision of education on their farms:
“The farmer may be one and the same time the owner and the governing body of the farm school, the employer of the workers whose children attend the school, and the source of instruction for child labour.”
The financial burden on the farmer and the government’s racial policies of educational inequality meant that the willingness and benevolent actions of the farmer were necessary to maintain an adequate level of education (Atkinson, 2007; HRW, 2004). If schools were provided, these schools tended to lack basic infrastructure and had multi-grade classes. Their teachers’ salaries were lower than their urban counterparts; the distances to schools from homes were often great and transport was unavailable, unreliable or inadequate (Atkinson, 2007).
This resulted in low educational attainment levels. In 1985, 36 percent of all rural learners between the ages of 6 and 14 years were not attending school. Enrolment was even lower for girls, who had the additional responsibility of caring for the home and members of the family (Robertson, 1988 cited in Atkinson, 2007, p. 229-230). By 1996 there was little improvement. The census data showed that 41 percent of all male workers had no education at all; 34 percent had little primary school education and the attainment of women was even lower (Simbi & Aliber, 2000 cited in Atkinson, 2007, p. 229). Atkinson (2007, p. 230) argues that the legacy of Apartheid farm education is an “illiterate farm labour force.”
During the political transition, the South African government saw the equitable7 distribution of quality8 education as fundamental to overall societal transformation (Fiske & Ladd, 2004). This is because education holds a special place in society.
Education is a basic socio-economic right that expands personal human freedom by developing the “cognitive, physical, emotional, critical and aesthetic powers” required to be fully human (Bowles, 1993, p. 37). Through the development of a common set of skills, values and knowledge, education fosters literacy, numeracy and critical reasoning. This, in turn, builds active citizenship, political tolerance and democratic participation (Labaree, 1997; Olssen, 1996).
Amartya Sen (1999, p. 74) in his groundbreaking book, Development as Freedom, argued that education should be used to develop “substantive freedoms – the capabilities – to choose a life one has reason to value”. Sen views education as a capability, as it improves what a person can do or be. Because it offers the opportunity to choose different lifestyles or ways of living, Walker (2006) argues that education has redistributive power. Quality education to farm workers and their children was therefore necessary to transmute inherited inequalities and arrest the cycle of poverty and generational oppression.
Post-apartheid South African education policy paid homage to the importance of redress. Section 29(a) of the Constitution entitles every person to basic education and Section 9(2) makes provision for educational redress as it puts in place measures to “protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, (who are) disadvantaged by unfair discrimination” (Republic of South Africa, 1996, p. 7). White Paper 1 and White Paper 2 both affirmed that the equitable distribution of public funding is necessary for all students in South Africa to achieve high quality educational experiences (Department of Education, 1995; Department of Education, 1996a). Section 34(1) of South Africa Schools Act (SASA) (1996) states that public schools ought to be funded from public resources “on an equitable basis in order to ensure the proper exercise of the rights of learners to education and the redress of past inequalities” (Department of Education, 1996b, p. 36, author’s own emphasis). The Amended Norms and Standards for School Funding (2006) and (2009) exempted the poorest 60 percent of schools from charging school fees.


Copyright Declaration 
Ethical Clearance Certificate: 
Ethics Statement 
Language Editor’s Disclaimer 
Chapter 1: Introduction to the Research Study .
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Problem Statement
1.3 Research Questions
1.4 Scientific Significance
1.5 Purpose of the Study
1.6 Layout of the Study
Chapter 2: Literature Review 
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Educational Journeys – From the Front-end Model to Lifelong Learning
2.3 Popular Education: Education for Liberation
2.4 The Equality of Speaking Beings
2.5 Activism as a Continuum: From Open Political Acts to Everyday Forms of Resistance
2.6 Synthesis of the Literature
Chapter 3: Conceptual Framework 
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Key Concepts of the Study
3.3 The Conceptual Framework
3.4 Summary
Chapter 4: Methodology 
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Research Paradigm and Approach
4.3 Research Design
4.4 Research Questions
4.5 Selection of the Research Site
4.6 Research Site – Female Farm Organisation (FFO)
4.7 Limitations and Delimitations
4.8 Selection of Research Participants
4.9 Research Participants
4.10 Research Sites on Farms and Off-Farm Areas in the Western Cape
4.11 Data Collection
4.12 Ethical Considerations
4.13 Data Organising, Storage and Archive
4.14 Data Analysis
4.15 Trustworthiness
4.16 Data Write Up
4.17 Summary
Chapter 5: Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations of the Study 
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Educational Model of Female Farm Organisation
5.3 Female Farm Activists’ Educational Journeys
5.4 Discussion on the Themes of the Study
5.5 Conclusions of the Study
5.6 Recommendations of the Study
5.7 Final Comment

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