A Comparative Study of the Freirean Pedagogical Practices employed by Popular Educators in South Africa and Canada during Facilitator Training

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

This thesis sets out to explore a comparative study of four Popular Educators using Freirean pedagogical practices in Canada and South Africa and discusses how different country contexts affect their pedagogies. This study explores how critical pedagogy addresses the mobilization of theory and its application into practice in different contexts. In order to analyse and conceptualize the facilitator’s pedagogy and the mobilization of Freire’s theory into their practice; Freire’s critical pedagogical theory was drawn on as well as the theories of other critical and feminist pedagogues, some of who analyse how theory is mobilized into practice. Foley’s theory of ideology is also drawn on alongside Freire’s educational theory. Finally, theories and research examining contextualized pedagogy is employed to analyse how Freire’s critical pedagogy is applied in different social contexts. This is a qualitative comparative study and the research took place in both Cape Town, South Africa and Toronto, Canada and utilized three forms of qualitative data collection tools; interviews, observations and document analysis. The researcher observed two days of workshops for each organisation, conducted interviews with four facilitators and four participants, two facilitators and two participants from each organisation, and carried out document analysis using one organisation information brochure or website from each organisation. Key findings have suggested that the lead facilitators’ pedagogies are greatly influenced by their foundational insurgent, liberating ideologies; ideologies that have been formed over their lifetime through life experiences and engagement with influential theorists and their theories. The lead facilitators’ pedagogies in both contexts pedagogies employ aspects from the Freirean model such as guided student-centred learning. However, availability of access to resources in each context affected facilitators’ ability to engage in different forms of student-centred learning activities. The study confirmed that facilitator’s curriculums were engaging with relevant issues pertaining to students lives, but the delivery of these issues did not align with a Freirean model in both contexts. The divergence from a Freirean delivery was found to be interwoven within the power relations in the classroom. The findings revealed that is seemed difficult for lead facilitators to completely dissolve hierarchies in the classroom, even though an exchange of knowledge was greatly advocated by both facilitators and participants. This study has elucidated how important it is to consider a multitude of factors, including contextual and personal histories when attempting to appropriately contextualize pedagogical models to be conducive to different contexts.