Applying Freire’s view in today’s education

Rwanda’s education system is doing a tremendous job in ensuringstudentspass exams.

However, the practice of following the curriculum step-by-step in the long run only encourages a fixed way of learning, as opposed to promoting critical thinking.


One of the sides of the country’s style of teaching is the dominant use of textbooks. Also, education isone-sided, where emphasis is put on teaching and not students learning.


The systemdoes not fullygive students the opportunity to reach their full potential; it instead focuses on recitation, henceignoring the much needed aspect of creative thinking.


Consequently, a student only attempts to master the content without critically applying it to his day-to-day life or the needs of society.

Freire’s philosophy

Known to many as the ‘father of critical thinking’, PauloFreire was cited as one of the most influential critical thinkers in education during the late 20th Century. Freire’s philosophy was inspired by a deep respect for the oppressed and understanding the world they inhabit.

The Brazilian educator and philosopher believedthat oppressed people could switchfrom any situation in their lives by thinking critically and taking action to change their status, or that simply put, improvement of the our existence is possible through education.

He explained that when oppressed people learn about their own culture, history, religion and heritage,the knowledge can transform their lives and lead to their ownempowerment.

Freire,however, notedthat education itself is suffering from a sickness and has played a significant role in maintaining oppression, thus, it has to be reformed in order for things to change.

In Freire’s view, students are many times deprived of the chance to critically assess the world in which they live and thus have no opportunity to change their lives for the better.

Education should not betrimmed to justteaching and learning; it should never be memorised or packagedand transferred to students.

It is a social action which can either empower or control students.

According Freire, education should lead todemocracy;it should be an act of creation, capable of building other creative acts.

On the issue of curriculum, Freiredescribes education as being constitutionally oriented, beginning from the teacher-student relationship to the subjects chosen for the syllabus and those left out.

In most schools, there is a prevalent scheme of deciding content, whether it is a commonverdict or one teacher’schoice, whether theassigned curriculumis obligatory or not.

Freire was of the view that societyis controlled by culture. These capacities are transferred through traditional curriculums which tend to meddle with self-governing principles, eventually affecting the creative development of students.

While Freire’s work is commendable, educationists must understand that acurriculum must be setwith an open mind.

Educators should seek to understand their students in the classroom setting as well as in their community – uncoverideas, conditions and lifestylesthat might not be present in class.

A curriculum should involve the experience of learners, which would in turn enable them to interpret their situation, critically examine it and act upon it.

Students must be involved in designing the curriculum, as well as evaluating it following class levels.

The writer is a PhD student of Comparative Education and leadership at Beijing Normal University

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