Box 1

Agroecological training

“We struggle for an education that teaches us to think – not one that teaches us to obey.” Paulo Freire.

Feeding critical thought

The vast majority of rural youth are marginalized at all levels of the educational system, and the very few opportunities to study exist in institutions that reproduce the transnational perspective of agriculture, a model that goes against the interests of smallholder family farmers. While mainstream universities continue graduating what they call “technicians” and “engineers” who are promoters of agribusiness, since 2006 La Vía Campesina has been developing original experiences in agroecological formación for young men and women, campesinas and campesinos, indigenous people, rural workers and other excluded members of society – so that a new generation of Food Sovereignty activists can successfully build the new food system we so desperately need. These spaces are the direct result of social struggle, born of enormous efforts and mobilizations in defense of an education that dignifies rural livelihoods, and are guided by a popular education based in the philosophical and pedagogical principles detailed below.

Philosophical principles:

Education through and for Social Transformation;
Education through and for Diversity;
Education through and for Work and Cooperation;
Education through and for Rebellion.

Pedagogical principles:

Practice/Theory/Practice: popular education is based on the dialogue between action, reflection, and matured action. True formación takes place when society is being transformed.
Education/Learning: A dialectical and horizontal relationship exists between educators and learners, with both teaching and learning in a constant dialogue free of hierarchy.
Diálogo de Saberes: only through a diversity of visions, perspectives, and proposals do people come to truly understand the world around them.
Action-Based, Participatory, and Contextualized Research: Investigations that take place are directly related to the real needs of students, their families and communities and the struggle for Food sovereignty.

The harvest

The aforementioned spaces for agroecological formación within La Vía Campesina are beginning to see their first harvests – new pedagogical experiences, different methods for democratic dialogue, and the most important of all outcomes, young women and men who recognize in Food Sovereignty their platform for the transformation of their realities. And while many more sites for formación still need to be consolidated, there are currently hundreds of other permanent educational processes taking place at the roots of rural social movements. All across the World youth are asking and answering the question, what do we do to achieve Food Sovereignty?