Girlie and I have been invited by the Scotland Learning Partnership to speak at a conference on adult learning and education. It’s our second time to visit Edinburgh.

While preparing for my talk on the conference theme – The Wider Benefits of Adult Learning, I also revisit the first conference on popular education I helped convene in 1986. It was then that we conceptualized the C-C-M framework for popular education: Context, Content, Method.

Most people associate popular education first with methods – participatory, creative, even fun. But we argued that for popular education to be effective and sustainable, we must first look into its context : Within what program and organization context are popular education activities being done?  And while popular education does emphasize appropriate (relevant and participatory) methods, it must also address the content, both those generated from the context and from those generated by the learners.

In the run up to CONFINTEA VI in Belem, Adult Learning and Education (ALE) became the preferred term.

During my first visit to Edinburgh, also sponsored by Scotland Learning Partnership (which used to call itself Scotland Adult Learning Partnership), we pursued the focus on “learning” to its logical next step, which is to make sure that “learners’ voices” would be heard at Belem. We also took the first steps to set up a Global Learners Network.

In this year’s Edinburgh conference, Girlie and I are team-anchoring a workshop on Alternative Learning Systems in the Philippines. We asked ourselves what we could contribute to help advance the discourse on ALE. We agreed that one lesson we can share from our experience is how to develop learners from grassroots communities to become themselves educators and learning facilitators. In our Filipino language, kaagapay.

We chose two contexts for our presentation: 1) the context of sustainable development of the Aetas’ ancestral domain in Botolan Zambales, and 2) the context of protection and “rainforestation” of the Marikina Watershed in Antipolo.

In both cases, we have partnered with local organizations, and developed selected community leaders and learners to become kaagapays.

To give our workshop participants a visual sense of the two contexts, we prepared 3 posters for each context. They will serve as “codes,” in Paolo Freire’s term, for our dialogical decoding of what ALE is and can be, not just in the Philippines but in Edinburgh.

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