In recent decades, Latin America has confirmed its role as a laboratory of social and educational policies, also due to the affirmation of progressive governments that arose from the bottom or legitimized themselves as such. Although with more or less relevant limits according to the different national contexts, there have been significant changes. They have made it possible, on the one hand, to combat inequalities, guaranteeing access to education also to historically excluded social groups; on the other hand, to promote transformations in educational systems and practices, in order to recognize the multiple differences that populate the continent, mainly those embodied by indigenous and Afro-descendant populations.
To give just one example: in 2003 Brazil approved the law number 10.639, which makes the teaching of African and Afro-Brazilian history and culture compulsory in schools and was modified in 2008 with the law 11.645, which also includes history of indigenous peoples. This is a turning point which is not simple and not without contradictions, because of its compensatory implications, but which has sparked a significant debate – as some UNESCO publications show – on the need to understand the complex paths of cultural formation, to encourage the overcoming of relationships of domination.
However, the current situation reveals a contradictory and complex scenario – too often simplified by the European public opinion – in which the conservative reaction asserts itself, generally in an authoritarian way, within the state apparatus of many countries but at the same time the popular participation grows exponentially. The field of social conflict appears, in fact, dynamic and constantly evolving: together with the more mature political experiences, represented by student, indigenous, trade union, peasant, landless movements, new subjectivities and social issues emerge.
In particular, in this context, the relevance of education is manifested in several aspects:
– On the content level, it is a key issue on the agenda of the neoliberal privatizations typical in reactionary governments that are catching on the continent, but it is also at the center of street protests aimed at affirming, defending or promoting education as a right for everyone.
– On the epistemological level, it is crossed by the struggle for the recognition of knowledge and visions of the world other than the unique Eurocentric thought, historically imposed on the Latin American peoples. In this sense, Paulo Freire and popular pedagogy continue to be a fundamental reference, as well as Jose Marti, Enrique Dussel, Gabriela Mistral, Simon Rodriguez, Augusto Boal.
– On a methodological level, the education characterizes the spaces of commitment, which constitute critical education contexts for those who participate but also with respect to the wider society. In this regard, the heterogeneous panorama of feminism is emblematic: it has been activated a process of action-reflection common to many experiences of oppression, resistance and struggle, often managing to cross national borders.
– On the representation level, the contexts of formal, non-formal and informal education are the privileged terrain of a battle between opposite readings of reality. The category of the coloniality of power and knowledge, developed by Anibal Quijano and other Latin American authors, is crucial for understanding the social substrate and the stakes of this battle.
Articles that deepen a specific national context are welcome, as well as articles that propose an overall analysis of the current scenarios and future perspectives of Latin America, in relation to social and educational challenges. In particular, contributions based on reflective participation in the social processes that are passing through the continent, be they research reports or experience accounts, are encouraged. In any case, the proposals must be characterized by a critical and problematizing approach. Authors are invited to scrupulously follow the editorial guidelines (https://educazioneaperta.it/indicazioni-redazionali) and to send their contribution in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, English or French by 30 April 2020, to the email firstname.lastname@example.org. After an initial evaluation by the editorial board, the articles will be subject to peer review.