Dialogue and Dignity - Linking Human Rights Education with Paulo Freire's "Education for Liberation"

  • Claudia Lohrenscheit


Viewed in the context of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004), it is clear that Paulo Freire's "Education for Liberation" and Human Rights Education (as it develops), have two core concepts of participation and empowerment in common. Participation is seen as the active involvement of individuals and groups in social, economic or political activities, while empowerment is viewed as the strengthening of individuals and groups and their liberation from oppressive conditions which crush human dignity. This article examines the development of Human Rights Education (HRE) which grew from UN International Human Rights Conventions, and which resulted in a common understanding of and basis for HRE. Not many authors (e.g. in Europe or the United States of America) currently involved in the development of human rights education rely on Paulo Freire's work as their main source of inspiration. In Latin America, however, the work of Paulo Freire is well-established and is referred to in current education discourse and practice. This article endeavours to link some of the core concepts of Freire's work to human rights education with a view to understanding education as a process of liberation involving dignity, dialogue and dissent. To this end, Paulo Freire's work is examined from the perspective of the German educational theorist and philosopher Gottfried Mergner who developed a theory on the social limits to learning and critically discussed Freire's work.