Giving meaning to political education – Liberation

National Popular Education Meetingsdossier

For years, educational policies, locked into managerial logic, have forgotten that the question of means must precede that of the horizon drawn by education. By Léonore Moncond’huy, EE-LV mayor of Poitiers.

From March 17 to 19 will take place in Poitiers the first National popular education meetings. A political, social and cultural response to the challenges of tomorrow. Release partner of the event, will propose on March 18 at 8:30 p.m. a round table on the subject. To be continued on our site.

An educational philosophy as much as a multiplicity of actors, popular education covers a diversity of spaces which have in common the confidence in the ability of each person to be an actor in their own life and in collective action as the foundation of living together. Boosted by the development of free time under the Popular Front, at the heart of debates on cultural democratization, it lives in 2022 in neighborhood houses, sports clubs, associations and civic initiatives… So many places of daily commitment without which the Covid would have had a much more serious impact on social cohesion.

However, popular education is disappearing from debates and public policies. It is weakened by the crisis of its economic models, as well as by the growing ignorance of the general public and the new political generations. The Ministries of Sport, Youth and Popular Education will be absorbed by the Ministry of National Education in 2021, making any other educational field invisible to that of school. The public heritage of holiday centers is sold to tourist promoters when it is by the sea, left dormant if it is in the countryside.

It is not a question of defending a “nostalgic” vision of “educpop”. Even less to oppose the educational spaces between them. Popular education is complementary to school, each having its own aims, united by the aspiration to a balanced education offered to everyone. Each deserves the respect of the State, each cruelly lacking it today. It is a question of alerting on an emancipatory vision of education which is disappearing.

For years, educational policies, locked into managerial logic, have forgotten that the question of means must precede that of the horizon drawn by education. What is an education project if not the path built for and by everyone towards a desirable future?

Today, educational success only seems to find recognition through the success of professional integration. Gradually, there is no other horizon than access to employment – ​​and as soon as possible. This vision is totally unable to respond to the current concerns of young people who, beyond employment, are in search of meaning, in a world in turmoil. Let’s hold on to the recognition of the diversity of paths to success. Intellectual, cultural and political emancipation, beyond the sole relationship to work, was at the heart of social and educational progress in recent centuries, and it must remain a major public policy issue.

Today, the value of collective spaces, where active citizenship and living together are experienced, is less and less recognized, and their disaffection maintained by the dominant liberal and individualist political approach. The role of associations, crucibles of this collective commitment, is atrophied by the abrupt end of subsidized contracts in 2017, and there is a growing tendency to consider them as auxiliaries to the State, places of top-down assertion values ​​of the Republic rather than the emergence of a free civic conscience.

However, in the face of political disaffection, the emergence of community or authoritarian aspirations, it is urgent to remember that democracy cannot be decreed, but that it is learned and practiced. That the Republic will never be as strong as if it is understood, chosen, tested by healthy debates. Thus, let us form engaged citizens rather than reciters of disembodied republican values; enlightened citizens, free to think, to organize collectively rather than play dangerously with populist ease.

Giving meaning to political education, rehabilitating collective spaces as positive horizons in the face of democratic, social and ecological crises, this is the role that popular education must play.

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