Freire, Fref and literacy texts in Chile, 1964-1970

Year: 1994

Author: Austin, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

As with the period of the UNESCO-backed literacy campaign in Cuba before it, the period 1964-1970 in Chile is arguably one of the great watersheds in twentieth century history of education. Responding to popular literacy debates reaching back to the latter decades of the 19th century, the Fref Montalva administration sponsored a literacy campaign which transformed the relationship between subject, text and society. The links between the ideological subtext of the literacy campaign and the popular rejection of "democratic" capitalism in Chile were not insignificant. Indeed, there remain influences in global educational discourse today of the Freire/Fref period.

This paper analyses the social and cultural context of the period, and locates literacy within that context. Inter alia, it argues that the centrality accorded the early work of Freire in the Chilean literacy process has tended to marginalise the significant contribution of co- workers (for instance, no English edition of Pedagogy of the Oppressed carries reference to its Chilean editor Marcela Gajardo); and that there remain unresolved contradictions between the stage of Freirian theoretical development applicable, and the textual representations of that theory.