Participation has become so central to adult education for community development that even the World Bank supports participatory programming. This article analyses how participation is conceptualised in Training for Transformation (TfT), a Freirean-inspired curriculum used in international community development settings. TfT seeks to equip learners ‘to understand and take action in their world’, partly by shaping the curriculum itself. Using critical discourse analysis (CDA) of the TfT curriculum, three interviews, and published TfT case studies, the study explores what kinds of involvement and control educators and curriculum developers intend in TfT. CDA elucidates who is included in the training and how practitioners position themselves vis-a-vis learners and other audiences. TfT implementation highlights the dialectic between idealised community participation and decision making in educational programming, and educators’ need and desire to develop curricular content. Specifically, within Freire’s early philosophy and the TfT curriculum, there is a tension between exploratory, participatory learning pedagogy rooted in dialogue, and animators’ intention to teach certain content and relay particular ideologies. This study highlights potential contradictions and complications in adult education for community development participatory discourses, and underscores the need for practitioners to consider what genuine participation entails and how best to cultivate it.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Life-span and Life-course Studies