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(Last Updated On: 30th November 2022)

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The Paper Titled “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” was authored by Paulo Freire and published by Citizens International, Malaysia. The paper focused on how the advanced or big nations are oppressing the less developed (underdeveloped) mostly in Africa and part of the Asia. This paper is more or less recapturing what happened in the slave trade, colonial era, independence, post-independence and neo-colonialism which are also related to what we are currently experienced under the globalization.

The paper looked critically on how most formal colonies are still struggling to be independent and free from various degree of oppressions, victimizations and other forms of neo-colonization which is not only hampering their growth but is also harming or treating their future. This unsatisfied agonies and injustice had led to the establishment of several struggles and movement towards librating and emancipation of the oppressed with little or no success due to the approach and perceptions of the freedom seekers.

This led to the concept of humanitization and dehumanitization according to Freire, those that at the disadvantaged are dehumanized who experience injustice, who were exploited, oppressed, including violence while they were struggling to recover their lose humanity.

How the journey to humanitization began and dehumanitization has long started with lots of historical testimony, although, many historical underpinning facts had been distorted, especially now that those who were oppressors are now going around to present themselves as humanitarian and offering charity, help and relief items to the less privilege, oppressed, weaker souls and less developed. Going by the distortion of being more fully human, sooner or later being less human leads the oppressed to struggle against those who caused them harm.

Meanwhile, the oppressed need to wake up and liberate themselves because the oppressors who oppress, exploit and rape by the virtue of their power cannot liberate the oppressed, rather only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. It should be added that any attempt by the oppressor to liberate the oppressed often manifest in the form of false or fake generosity and eye servicing.

It is worthy of note that any attempt any effort by the oppressed to challenge the oppressor or any attempt to weaken the oppressed don’t often going down well with the oppressed, because what they want is to have the opportunity to continue offering the generosity which they are doing with a personal motives. Are all US, UK, UN etc humanitarian services done in only in the name of God, rather there are mission behind those helps, aids and supports.

Why all their supports, aids and generosity continue to cause death, despair, insecurity, and poverty? Also, why the dispensers of false generosity are become desperate at the slightest threat to their source?

Paulo Freire further that, there is need to fight the unfear, unjust, the fake generosity. He believes that true generosity has the intention to fight to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. The false charity therefore, contains the fearful and subdued, i.e the rejection of life to enables them extend their trembling hands.  Freire, equally emphasized that True Generosity lies in striving so that those hand of individuals or groups need to be extended less or less in supplication so that the oppressed can become real human and contribute to the world development.

He stressed that those that will champion this struggles should come from the oppressed or those who have true solidarity for them (No body wish you joy, if you don’t wish yourselves one). Individuals and groups concerns need to fight for the restoration of their humanity which will eventually bring the true generosity.

Freire asked rhetorical questions that:

“who are better prepared than the oppressed to understand the terrible significance of an oppressive society”?

 “Who suffer the effects of oppression more than the oppressed”?

 “Who can better understand the necessity of libration”?

Paulo Freire also prepared the mind of the fighters of their libration to remember that freedom, libration and independence are not things achieved under the platter of gold i.e libration cannot be achieved by mere chance but through the praxis of their quest for it.

He stressed that, it was unfortunate to see the individuals and groups that are oppressed who turned themselves to another set of oppressor or sub-oppressor instead of teaming up to fight the real oppressor. Instead of fighting for the libration, they were seeking favours from the oppressed who that to continue to exploit them, to divide them and continue to gain their control till date because they have lose their focus and direction.

Freire pointed out that this does not mean that the oppressed are unaware that they are downtrodden but their perception of themselves as oppressed is impaired by their submission in the reality of oppression. At this level, their perception of themselves as opposites of the oppressor does not yet signify engagement in a struggle to overcome the contradiction of libration.

In this situation, the vision of individuals and group is individualistic or group-centric due to their identification with the oppressor they have no consciousness of themselves as persons or as members of an oppressed class. It is not to become free that they want agrarian reform, but in order to acquire land and thus become landowners or more or less bosses over other workers.  

Pedagogy on Education otherwise known as Education Paradigm

In another related development, there is also, oppression in the nature of education and its flow which Freire termed “Problem Posting Education” which according to him involves students and teachers interaction on how knowledge are shared. He believes that the present education is more or less receiving, memorizing and repeating what teachers have deposited for them which Freire called Banking Model of Education.

He criticized this paradigm and seeks for a new paradigm called “Problem-Posing Model of Education”. According to him, this model will enable men and women to develop their power to acquire, perceive and interpret critically the way they see the world and not in the static manner. He adds that Banking-Education serves the interest of the oppressed.         

Two Stages of the Pedagogy if the Oppressed  

  1. Humanist Libertarian 

The pedagogy has two stages. 1st stage the oppressed unveil the world of oppression and through the praxis commit themselves to its transformation while in the 2nd stage, the reality of the world has already been transformed, this pedagogy did not only belong to the oppressed but to the entire people in the cause of seeking liberation. This also led to the cultural domination and confrontation. Most of the confrontation comes as a result of how the oppressed viewed the world of oppression and through how the expulsion of the myths created and developed by the old order while people seek new structure which emerging from the revolutionary transformation.  

Reconstruction of Human via Dialogue   

One of the aspects of this paper is that it emphasized on how dialogue can be used to solve human crisis. Freire noted that human being can be reconstructed through the process of fair interaction and dialogue. He believes that it is through the dialogue that the oppressed and oppressors can rediscover their humanity and the world. Similarly, it empahsised that such dialogue must be based on equality, humanity, hope, understanding and fairness and mutual respect.

The oppressed and oppressor must show love because dialogue cannot exist without commitment to mutual love. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is the commitment to the cause of liberation. This commitment, stresses Freire, motivated by loves is dialogical. As an act of bravery, love cannot be sentimental, as an act of freedom, it is the commitment to the cause of libration and must not serve as a pretext for manipulation.     

Another interesting aspect of this paper focuses on the Theories of Cultural Action. The theory was developed for dialogical and anti-dialogical matrices.  The Anti-dialogical is an instrument of oppression while Dialogical is an instrument for liberation. According to Freire, there is need to understand the theories to be able to understand holistically why and how oppressed and oppressors related. Anti-dialogical emphasized conquest, divide and rule formula, manipulation and cultural invasion/imperialism while dialogical approach promote liberation, cooperation, unity, organization and cultural pluralism and synthesis.


It is safe to conclude that Freire, teaches the world on how to live a better life, how people can come together to solve problems facing humanity, how to break the class barrier, let people have freedom to express themselves within being oppressed or intimidation, freedom to seek knowledge, mutual cooperation on various issues sound and threaten human existence. Dialogue need to be at forefront of every progressive change and development by involving the oppressed and the oppressors to harmoniously united in decision making that will help building better society. The oppressors should not pretend or doing eye servicing rather promoting true humanitarian, generosity and love that will create effective interaction and mutually guided relationship in the world while others problem becomes every human problem. 

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