Re-Kindling popular education: Launch of website

Welcoming guests to the launch of the popular education website, Omar Badsha, the director of South African History online (SAHO) called it a ‘significant step for us’ as this is another tool for teaching and learning history ‘from below’. The site is part of a growing knowledge portal that offers access to information on past and present education run within community venues, outside the formal system.

Prof Shirley Walters from the Division for Lifelong Learning at the University of the Western Cape praised this collaboration between SAHO, DLL, the Popular Education Programme and the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (DHET) as an important exercise in ‘democratising knowledge’. Popular education combines imaginative processes and clear social justice purpose with activism. It demonstrates how education can contribute importantly to making social activism more sustainable.

The origins of the catalytic project that lead to the creation of the website were outlined by Prof. Ari Sitas. He reminded the audience that much creative progressive thinking happens outside universities. The ‘Traditions of popular education’ project is part of a larger post-apartheid knowledge project. It aims at supporting the next generation of thinkers to understand the problems of inequality and unsustainable living so they may work for change for the greater good of all. He challenged the audience: ‘how do you create more democratic environments where dialogue can flourish?

Anyone interested in education posters, speeches or pamphlets from the past, articles written by South African and international authors, participatory teaching materials and information on organisations running alternative and political education will find useful references at this website. People are also invited to contribute to ensure it remains alive and relevant.

The Traditions project hopes this website will help us see what we so often miss in the grand narratives of revolutions, social movements, and knowledge paradigms, that is the day to day sustained and hard work of excavating experiential knowledge, and of teaching/learning how to change the world.