Social educators tend to act as “normalisers” of markedly deviant social behaviours. Does this normative tendency occur in Brazil too?
In Brazil, the guiding document for the work of social educators is the National Classification of Social Assistance Services (“Tipificação Nacional dos Serviços Socioassistenciais”, BRASIL, 2009), which distinguishes between two fields of action: basic social protection, which comprises the prevention of social risks, and special social protection, which comprises assistance to those segments of the population which face social risks, i.e. homeless people, children and teenagers who have been subjected to any kind of rights violations and victims of domestic violence, among others. Accordingly, from the perspective of my activities as a social educator in the field of basic social protection in the Agency for Coexistence and Strengthening of Bonds, I can say that in certain situations this normative inclination does arise, as the aim of this agency is to prevent situations which might pose a risk to family or community coexistence and/or compromise family bonds, in the sense that our work includes activities to demarcate some of the limits of social coexistence, rights and duties, and the Statute of Children and Adolescents (BRASIL, 1990).
In the view of certain facilitators of educational activities at a local level, education is not directly connected to the everyday problems of adults and young people. Does this shift towards formal education also arise in the practice of Brazilian social educators?
Social educators in Brazil operate under the National Policy for Social Assistance, which means they are social workers in non-formal educational settings. Socio-educational prevention work, in particular within the Agency for Coexistence and Strengthening of Bonds, is quite distinct from formal education; the manner in which the Agency takes action in the Social Assistance Reference Centre where I work, for example, is as follows: to begin with, an interview is conducted with the family, and the child or adolescent is enrolled in the group offering activities appropriate to their age; subsequently, the child or adolescent begins taking part in group activities, which are cultural (visual arts, theatre and music - violin lessons, choral singing and musical theory), sporting (karate) and socio-educational (social risk prevention and ensuring rights) in nature, in addition to guided visits to museums, cultural venues and musical performances. The families also receive accompaniment in the form of regular visits, the aim of which is to assess problem situations and provide whatever guidance is deemed necessary.
Paulo Freire is an inspiration to a lot of people, but not many are consistent in implementing his recommendations. In Brazil, is Paulo Freire a fashion, or a genuine inspiration to action?
Social Education in Brazil has been shaped on the basis of Social Pedagogy, as in other Latin American and European countries, in addition to drawing highly pertinent influences from the theories of Paulo Freire as regards Popular Education. In the professional practice of Brazilian Social Educators, the influence of Paulo Freire is highly relevant, in particular his work “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, given that the profession is unregulated, and as social educators have no university-level qualification, they lack methodologies and theoretical foundations for their work. Accordingly, practice has supplanted theory, in the sense that Social Educators, as a result of Freire’s influence, have developed their own working methodologies in practice before a systematic theoretical framework was formulated.
What are the main points you would like to highlight from the APES Meeting of Social Educators in Almeirim?
I would like to highlight two important contributions from among the ideas discussed at the APES Meeting of Social Educators:
Politics => National politics
Subjects / Target groups => Social dialogue
Subjects / Target groups => International adult education