Youth and Adult Education: Challenges Of A Liberating and Reflective Practice

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VIEIRA, Benedito Wagner [1]

VIEIRA, Benedito Wagner. Youth and Adult Education: Challenges Of A Liberating and Reflective Practice. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 06, Ed. 06, Vol. 12, pp. 72-79. June 2021. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access Link:


As it is known, the Education of Youth and Adults (EJA) is a social rescue, a debt of society to that marginalized population and excluded from the educational process. However, currently, the EJA has presented diverse contexts throughout the course, due to the lack of public policies aimed mainly at this type of teaching. Thus, this article aims to improve the understanding and clarification of some relevant points of the EJA, presenting some of the relationship of this type of teaching in a liberating and reflective perspective whose purpose is to show how the Education of Young People and Adults is traveled in Brazil, its challenges and achievements. This work is mainly based on the books of Paulo Freire and Miguel Arroyo, through a bibliographic research, taking a critical and current approach to this theme. Therefore, it can be concluded that the teaching and learning process of the EJA needs to be constructive, capable of overcoming the methodologies of traditional textbooks that are often based only on the reproduction of contents. It is necessary to implement policies capable of rescuing these students often evaded from public schools aimed at teaching the EJA.

Keywords: EJA, Citizenship, Freedom, School, Reflection.


This article tries to clarify a little more about Youth and Adult Education (EJA), inquiring about possible perspectives of the relationship of the student with knowledge. In this way, we will see a little more the relationship of the EJA in a liberating and reflexive perspective whose purpose is to rethink how this type of teaching is covered in Brazil, its challenges and achievements in the current conjuncture.

Thinking about this perspective, liberating pedagogy is able to bring great contributions in youth and adult education since it is an education with specific characteristics and needs. At EJA, we find students who seek a second chance and experience various challenges and liberating pedagogy is able to act by revealing that, in order to change, everyone is needed to participate.

We realize that Youth and Adult Education continues with many challenges ahead, with challenging perspectives within the current context. In order to change this, we need to think of the EJA as a more flexible teaching modality, since these students are mostly adults and need to be looked at more carefully.


Youth and Adult Education is a teaching modality for people who have not had access to or have not been able to continue elementary and high school in the corresponding age group. Today, although Brazil still has approximately 13 million unliterate people, we can see that education systems have offered greater educational opportunities. Thus, these people who at the appropriate age were deprived, for various reasons, of the formal knowledge established by the school, they now have their right to education assisted and guaranteed.

According to Gadotti and Romão (2011), often the terms adult education, popular education, non-formal education and community education are used as synonyms although they are not. Adult education and non-formal education are part of the same disciplinary, theoretical and practical area of education. However, we have seen the popularization of the term adult education, especially in international organizations such as UNESCO, to refer to a specialized area of education. The United States has used non-formal education as a reference to adult education developed in Third World countries and is generally linked to community education projects. And the term adult education in the United States is reserved for non-formal education that is applied at the local level in the country.

History shows us, for example, that the illiterate were forbidden to exercise the right to vote because they did not belong to the world of letters, because they were seen as “incapable” of exercising their citizenship and democracy. Consequently, they did not participate in important decisions for the construction of the history of their own country.

Part of the Students of The EJA (farmers, masons, service assistants, salesmen, maids, nannies, among others) work during the day and study at night. Due to the intense working hours, tiredness can be an aggravating factor for failure or school dropout, and many are again excluded from the educational process. In this sense, there is a greater demand regarding the commitment of the teacher in the planning of the class. Therefore, it is important that the activities are meaningful and are directed to the needs of the students, because most are with a large amount of life baggage.

One of the challenges for the EJA teacher is to bridge the gap between the experiences of the students and the school knowledge. This connection allows new knowledge to bear fruit and the knowledgeable subject to be reborn with a new posture and a new way of attributing meaning to their learning.

We noticed that the EJA student presents peculiar levels and learning rhythms, as well as experiences, beliefs and values organized throughout his/her life. These particularities must be respected in order to ensure a better quality in the teaching and learning process, enabling a longer length of stay in school, since one of its biggest problems today is avoidance. Public policies of inclusion are not enough, much more needs than that: awakening in young people and adults the taste for the act of learning and knowing.

In this way, we realize that there are enormous challenges to be faced by the EJA. The training of teachers who have emphasis on this type of teaching is one of them.Another challenge is related to professional development. The precarious working conditions greatly limits the action of the teacher, who, in most of the time, did not choose to teach to these students. Almost always the attribution of the Professor of the EJA is not due to political-pedagogical option, but by imposition of workload or other factors.

Arroyo (2017) compared EJA students to end-of-day or early day passengers who travel around the city or fields on this way and back from work to the EJA, in a displacement struggle such as class, gender and race. And the EJA becomes the “space-time”, in the same way as social movements, work, queue, station, bus. Thus, “The identity of the education of young and adult people comes from this coexistence, encounter, confluence of these collective identities” (ARROYO, 2017, p. 24).

We will see below how the EJA can become an education in favor of the freedom of students as citizens, social inclusion and transformation in search of a better future. All this, according to the postulates of Paulo Freire’s Liberating Pedagogy.


Youth and Adult Education is an integral part of the global sociopolitical project of popular struggle in class society. It is part of the global process of popular training training. It aims at an education capable of contributing to the formation of men and women endowed with social awareness and historical responsibility, able for collective intervention organized on reality, from their local community, always in search of improving the quality of life for all.

This education implies, therefore, a path that is part of the reading of reality, social themes of national scope and urgency and themes of local interest. For the study of these themes, it is necessary to seek scientific resources. Hence the importance of disciplinary areas conceived as means for study and intervention on reality. According to Arroyo

Collectives of teachers-educators invent ways to get out of the rigidity of disciplines and bring this knowledge of resistances to strengthen students in their right to life and in their resistance stoneware for liberation. The search for the school, from children, and the EJA, as teenagers, young people, adults in lives so violated by fears, will be more than a show of courage to overcome them. It may be space, the time to guarantee your right to knowledge that values your resistance sporliberation. Ensure a knowledge that frees them. In collectives of masters and students, data can be collected on the diversity of forms of resistance and attempts of state policies for the right to life. Understand the causes brought to justify violence, the extermination of popular youth, poor, black. The school, school knowledge will be the place where they can understand in a systematized way because they are victims of so many social and racial violence, gender. Why condemned to live in fear (ARROYO, 2017, p. 244).

Therefore, action only becomes conscious and participatory, when social excluded people are able to understand their own historicity, their own identity. For this student, it is of no use to know how to read and write, if their historical reality remains unchanged. So, according to Arroyo (2017) to reinvent the EJA, it is necessary to make a relationship between human rights and adult youth education in order to recognize these students as subjects of human rights and to broaden the conception of education from the perspective of the Federal Constitution and the LDB. As a consequence, we also do not reduce education to the simplified and reductionist vision of ensuring teaching as something they could not do at regular age.

Thus, it is not up to the teacher to deposit contents, but to be active as a historical subject committed to his own social practice. As Freire tells us

The active role of man in his and with his reality. The sense of mediation that has the nature for the relations and communication of men. Culture as the addition that man makes to the world he did not make. Culture as a result of his work. Your creative and recreative effort. The transcendental sense of their relationships. The humanistic dimension of culture. Culture as a systematic acquisition of human experience. As an incorporation, therefore critical and creative, and not as a juxtaposition of “given” reports or prescriptions. The democratization of culture – dimension of fundamental democratization. Learning writing and reading as a key with which the illiterate would begin its introduction into the world of written communication. Man, after all, in the world and with the world. Its role as subject and not of mere and permanent object. From there, the illiterate would begin the operation of changing their previous attitudes. It would be discovered, critically, as a doer of this world of culture (FREIRE, 2019b, p. 142-143).

In the form of Paulo Freire’s work, we can observe that, first, in order to educate adults, it is necessary to make the student realize his own existence, his place in this world, to exercise a function. It is important to regain your esteem, or help build it. When this student is able to perceive these details he begins to feel the need and pleasure to learn, then begins a new stage, in which the student already has the desire to learn and seeks learning. Thus, according to the experiences made by Paulo Freire, it is possible to obtain better results in literacy, which he considers not only the know-how to read and write, but also the political participation.

According to Gadotti and Romão (2011), the adult student should not be treated like a child, because he wants to see some application in what he is learning. In parallel to this, he feels somehow fearful, needing the creation of self-esteem so that he can overcome his frustrated childhood experiences in relation to school. The adult student must, first of all, have the right to express himself or herself.

The pedagogy of freedom is directly linked to the right to education as a way to rescan its difficulties. Education acts as a liberator, because it takes the student out of the darkness and makes him a more critical and active being, brings new perspectives and challenges in search of a dignified life. The pedagogy of freedom acts directly in the relationship with knowledge. The current situation of these young people and adults can be changed with the practice of knowledge and thinking.

School knowledge will be liberating if, on the one hand, it reveals, deepens and deconstructs the structuring causes of the history of its segregation, repression, extermination: unravelracism, sexism, machismo, patriarchy. That they understand their structuring class character of violence and extermination of adolescents, young people, girls, women, preferably black, black. How to advance by unveiling these structuring axes of working patterns, expropriation of space, housing, land, more basic human rights? The role of the school will not be so much to educate for tolerance of gender, race, with advice impregnated with moralism. What they expect from school knowledge is to understand the sexism and racism that violate them as structuring of capitalist patterns of expropriation of the most basic human rights: the right to life. Deepening topics of study such as racism and sexism shown on the maps of violence are by themselves violent themes. In-humans. Show how we reinforce the structuring of our institutions: power, justice-unjust, work, expropriation of income, land, housing. School, college. This in-depth knowledge is lacking in the curricula of basic and higher education. Victims, above all, have the right to know which structures victimize them. They are entitled to liberating knowledge (ARROYO, 2017, p. 246).

The Education of Young People and Adults can free and transform students into agents of society, because education is the greatest liberator of humanity. Gadotti and Romão (2011) tells us that young and working adults seek to overcome their precarious living conditions through struggle. These precarious conditions are part of the root of illiteracy, since they compromise the literacy process, especially for young people and adults.

Thus, we must gradually try to make the school an environment of knowledge and knowledge, of coexistence and companionship, of freedom and humanity. Students bring their stories, their anxieties and this must be respected and taken advantage of. Only in this way will we be able to make the EJA an education capable of freeing from social shacks and exclusion, transforming the future perspective of these students.


Given what has been researched, we can conclude that the teaching and learning process of the EJA needs to be constructive, capable of overcoming the methodologies of traditional textbooks that are often based only on the reproduction of contents. It is expected a methodology in which the student is an interactive subject who thinks, asks, who is able to build and reconstruct hypotheses while studying.

We realize that it is not an easy task to gain autonomy. We learn to be free slowly, overcoming our selfishness and comodism, so that, from adolescence on, the human being is closer to the full exercise of freedom. There are many difficulties in the face of a coherent proposal for education for freedom.

This type of popular education is often treated with prejudice by a portion of the population, because these students come from regular education classes and, for various reasons, were unable to complete their studies at the right time, consistent with their ages. In this context, popular education becomes a kind of resistance to the discriminatory process in the face of its realities.

Youth and Adult Education is actually a large working class that, for various reasons, especially the economic one, brings them back to the classroom, in the face of numerous family, economic and social difficulties that they need to overcome in order to succeed and succeed in their educational trajectory.

We believe that creating new paradigms for Youth and Adult Education is more appropriate, because this modality, in most cases, is left aside because it treats adult people and who are largely unliterate or partially literate.

We conclude that the EJA cannot be somehow ignored from the educational process. It is necessary to implement policies capable of rescuing these students often evaded from public schools aimed at teaching the EJA, since this modality, above all, is a social rescue.


ARROYO, Miguel G. Passageiros da noite: do trabalho para a EJA: itinerários pelo direito a uma vida justa. Rio de Janeiro: Vozes, 2017.

FREIRE, Paulo. Pedagogia da Autonomia: saberes necessários à prática educativa. Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 2019a.

_____. Educação como prática da liberdade. Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 2019b.

_____. Pedagogia da Esperança: um reencontro com a Pedagogia do Oprimido. Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 2019c.

_____. Pedagogia do Oprimido. Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 2019d.

GADOTTI, Moacir; ROMÃO, José E. (Orgs.). Educação de Jovens e Adultos: teoria, prática e proposta. São Paulo: Cortez, 2011.

[1] Postgraduate and undergraduate studies.

Submitted: May, 2021.

Approved: June, 2021.

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