How Can Revisiting the Cabral-Freire Collaboration in Guinea-Bissau Help Bridge Transnational Educational Encounters?

Brandon D Lundy




Because he shared a similar worldview with Amilcar Cabral, the scholar-revolutionary and architect of Lusophone West African independence, in 1975 Brazilian educator Paulo Freire was invited to develop an adult literacy campaign for the population of newly-independent Guinea-Bissau. Freire's critical discourse about the best way to achieve educational reform in the country emerged from an engagement with on-the-ground counterparts who would work to turn his ideas into practical and workable solutions, with little success. This dialogic encounter is documented in a series of letters written between Freire; Mario Cabral, the Commissioner of State Education and Culture; and members of the adult literacy team in Guinea-Bissau. These letters were subsequently published as a collection. With Cabral's assassination just months before the country achieved independence from Portugal, workable nationalist education reforms never truly materialised. Today, only about half of the populace of Guinea-Bissau is literate. Sporadic and insufficient payments to the country's civil servants and poor infrastructure perpetuate impotent learning environments. This paper revisits Paulo Freire's critical approach to pedagogy as well as the writings of Amilcar Cabral to determine if the work begun by these two men can be reconstituted as an action plan able to address the critical deprivations of the current educational system in the country.




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