Feature Article


Colloquium: Forging Solidarity: Southern Perspectives of Popular Education

Date: 9th - 10th June 2016

Venue: Sustainability Institute - Lynedoch Road, Stellenbosch, 7603, South Africa

Animating this colloquium is a two-fold question: In what ways are popular educators in the ‘south’, and particularly in South Africa, responding to various, precarious economic, political, cultural and environmental conditions? And in so doing, are they planting seeds of hope for alternative futures that can connect individuals and communities locally and globally to achieve economic, ecological and social justice?

The colloquium forms part of a ‘catalytic research project’ of the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NiHSS) and University of Western Cape.

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Reflecting about Forging Solidarity (See the right hand column for a series of approaches)

Let's talk about popular education!


This work-in-progress narrative derives from an initial 18-month research project entitled ‘Remembering traditions of popular education’ . It seeks to shed some light on various claims about popular education made by different people and groups in past and present South Africa. The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with over 20 people, asking them to describe how they became activist-educators for social justice and what sustains their commitment; to name some of the influences on their practice; and to offer advice for current activist-educators. At the end, we invite you to contribute your questions and insights as to the relevance of popular education for today and we offer further resources for dialogue.

Here, we cite only a fraction of what experienced popular educators have said, and we offer audio-clips that bring their voices to life. While we also interviewed international practitioners, for now, we focus mainly on South Africans.

Stories of struggle make visible how popular education is closely tied to particular contexts and contingent upon specific conditions. Knowledge generated in processes of popular education primarily serves those who are participants in the dialogues. But it can illuminate how such knowledge becomes useful in the struggle for change and transformation.

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