On 19 September 2021, the world celebrates 100 years since the birth of Paulo Freire, a leading advocate for critical pedagogy. The Brazilian educator and philosopher changed how education was viewed, understood, and experienced. As a scholar of his work, Prof Russel Botman found a friend and colleague in their shared views on life, higher education, and theology. In celebration of this, Russel Botman titled his April 2007 inaugural speech as Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, ‘A multicultural university with a pedagogy of hope for Africa’.
In his seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968), Freire places the persecuted at the centre of society, arguing that oppressed people can regain their humanity by leading the struggle against inequality, injustice, and discrimination faced within their communities. What captured Prof Botman’s attention the most was the foreword written in celebration of the tenth anniversary of Friere’s work, which subsequently led to a whole new pedagogy of hope. Thus, the Stellenbosch University’s HOPE Project was born, with a vision for higher education and sustainable development and the creation of ‘a university of meaning and significance for South Africa and Africa’ at its core. Through this project, Botman identified dilemmas such as credibility, relevance, student success, human management, and Afro-centricity that needed to be addressed.
In a space influenced by Freire, we at the Russel Botman Fund celebrate the hope that education provides and other scholars across the world. While hope may spur us into the future, we must not only envision one but act on this hope to begin creating a path that others will follow into eternity.
Partner with us to create a pathway that ensures a better future, built on the past pillars and opportunities within the present. Donate towards this inspirational fund today and change the life of someone’s tomorrow.