“I think participatory education is about transforming people. And transformative education is the process in which we, first of all, challenge power relations in order to create a safe environment so that different voices can emerge and be heard—but we cannot stop there. People need to say things, but they also need to reflect and question themselves in relation to what they are saying.”
Social change requires individuals, alone and collectively, to undergo shifts in understand what is possible in shaping the human condition. Education, when based on a continuou cycle of reflection and action, grounded both in theory and practice, may support deep and transformative learning processes and outcomes, potentially leading to changes at a wider organisational and societal level. Participation, through a range of successful innovations and practices, is perceived to have the potential to influence pro-poor social change and contribute to poverty reduction and greater social justice by strengthening citizen rights and voice, which can in turn influence policy making, enhance local governance, and improve the accountability and responsiveness of institutions. But meaningful participation requires learning, changes in behaviour, attitudes and power relationships. What are the relationships between education, participation and social change? What needs to be learned, and how, in order to achieve transformation of individuals and society? And where and with what means should such learning be convened?