"The process of agrarian reform begins a new history, a new culture, a
culture born of a process of transforming the world. For this very reason, it
implies social transformations for example, the overcoming of a profoundly paternalist
and fatalist culture in which the peasant got lost as an almost totally excluded
Through his re-incorporation into the process of production, he acquires a social
position he did not previously have, a history he did not have.
In truth, he discovers that fatalism no longer explains anything at all and
that, having been able to transform the land, he is also capable of transforming
history and culture. From out of that former fatalism, the peasant is reborn,
inserted as a presence in history, no longer as an object, but as a subject
of history. Now, this whole process involves the tasks of education. So, working
in the sense of helping Brazilian men and women to exercise the right of standing
erect on the ground, tilling the land, turning it around, making it produce
more effectively, is our right and is our duty.
Education is one of the keys to open such doors. I never forgot that lovely
phrase which I heard from an educator, from a peasant literacy worker from a
group of Sem Terra in an enormous settlement in the state of Rio Grande
do Sul where I once was, when he said: "by the strength of our work, through
our struggle, we cut through the barbed wire of the latifundium and
we entered it, but when we got there, we saw that there were other barbed wires,
like that of our ignorance". "Then I understood even better, on that
day", he said, "that the more innocent we are, the better we are for
the world’s owners".
I find that it is a task that is not only political, not only ideological, but
also pedagogical. Without this there can be no agrarian reform.
I send a message to young teachers:
Live for me, now that I cannot live myself, with children and with adults who,
in their struggle, seek to be themselves, men and women."
Renowned Brazilian educator, the author of the celebrated Pedagogia do oprimido
(Pedagogy of the Oppressed), amongst other contributions towards the
development of a critical dimension in education and adult literacy, in which
one teaches students to read the word to read the world, recorded this statement
for presentation during the National Meeting of the Educator of Agrarian
Reform (ENERA): With School, Land and Dignity, held at the University of
Brasília (UnB), 28 to 31 July 1997. The thrust of his argument is that
a new culture emerges from agrarian reform in that it enables man's reinsertion
into and as a subject of history; the educational task in such a context is
thus the exercise of citizenship and the cutting of the 'barbed wires' of ignorance.
He concludes his statement sending a message to the young teachers at the Meeting:
to live for him, now that his age no longer enables him to, the struggle with
children and with adults who seek to exercise citizenship and dignity. Not long
after the recording of this interview, at the age of 76, Professor Paulo Freire
passed away, having left for the noteworthy Education Programme of the MST a
lifetime legacy of dignification of the oppressed.