Educational Tools for Social Change Among Youth on the Thai-Burma Border

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Sally KANTAR, Mote Oo Education, Thailand
This action research project explores the practical application of Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy in an intensive history course involving thirty-four youth participants from Burma. The course is contextualized as a crucial element within a residential, long-running post-10 social justice education program on the Thai-Burma border. Community-based initiatives like this one serve ethnic populations displaced from Burma to Thailand by civil war, operating schools that double as change agents in the struggle to end widespread injustice and promote genuine democracy in Burma.

Due to their non-formal nature, these educational institutions are ideal environments to nurture and explore the applicability of critical pedagogy as a revolutionary tool—one that is most often attributed to Paulo Freire in his landmark publication, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Literature exists demonstrating how Freire’s ideas have been tested and widely discussed throughout the Americas (Brookfield 2005; hooks 1994; Shor 1996), but little has been written about what happens when these principles are practically adapted and applied within a Southeast Asian, and specifically, multiethnic Burmese context.

This educational experience illustrates how the classroom functions as a place where new ideas are tested, alliances formed, and power shared, establishing foundations for future social action. Teaching and learning are evaluated utilizing the strategies of democratic learning through a student-generated curriculum. The teacher also doubles as the researcher in this work, which was submitted to the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies (UK) as an MA dissertation and awarded a distinction.

Through reflective analysis, narrative writing, and critical engagement with relevant pedagogical literature of the last forty years, this study investigates the results of Freire’s ideas when implemented on the Thai-Burma border, and the ongoing implications for teachers and students of revolutionary education.