Perhaps Dominic can respond? ... Andy
At 08:57 AM 29/08/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>Interesting document, Andy.
>I'm trying to resolve the apparent mismatch between this being a "Plan of
>Action for Political Education" for the ANC--a body that is a political
>organization with a definite political philosophy and agenda--and the
>open-ended, non-ideological flavor of the classes:
>"The requirement is that the text must be sufficient to generate dialogue
>of a political nature between the participants. There must be no sense of
>indoctrination or drilling involved. ... There should be no attempt to
>insist on the use of particular texts. Wide freedom should be allowed to
>any study group to use any text it wishes. It should be regarded as a sign
>of the maturity of any particular study group, that it has preferences and
>particular interests it wishes to pursue."
>I compare, for instance, these classes with our own XMCA in which there
>are not any specific guidelines as to what we should read (this is decided
>jointly, often democratically), or how we should talk about them
>(individuals make these decisions as they compose their contributions).
>Still, the purpose of the listserve, to explore and extend sociohistorical
>psychology, influences our decisions. Furthermore, there is a social
>structure of central and peripheral participation in the list that creates
>and enforces normative standards for content and participation. XMCA is
>framed by a sense of expertise that shapes somewhat different purposes for
>different participants (e.g., to learn vs. to extend theory).
>In the ANC classes, the prescribed function of the chairperson of the
>class is to "encourage all participants to join in" --indeed, "The
>chairperson encourages and protects [those who may be] shy when talking
>about politics." However, this is done without losing sight of the fact
>that "the participants are supposed to become political cadres."
>How is the chairperson selected? Is he/she a more central participant?
>Does the apparent neutral, facilitative role of the chairperson hide the
>actual function of enforcing a normative political agenda? If not through
>the chairperson, is there some other device for ensuring a convergent
>educational enterprise, or is the sponsorship of the classes by the ANC
>sufficient to ensure a convergent program? If the latter, what does this
>say about the power relations between the ANC and the broader society in
>Louisiana State University
>Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
>08/29/2004 08:02 PM ZE10
>Please respond to xmca
>bcc: David H Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU
>Subject: ANC Political Education program
>Below is a
>document drafted for a local ANC branch in South Afrcia,
>on Political Education. The author has given permission for me to share
>this on the XMCA list for the purpose of getting advice from sympathetic,
>professional educators. Any comments would be most welcome and can be
>"Dear Comrade Phil,
>Here below is my draft Plan of Action for Political Education in the
>branch. I hope you will read it and let me know what you think. Please
>feel free to pass it on to the other comrades involved. Then we can fix a
>time to meet and agree on or amend this part of the branch POA, ready for
>adoption at the next BEC on September 14, which will give us about two
>months and a half to start implementing the plan before the Christmas
>African National Congress.
>Draft Programme of Action for Onica Mashigo Branch
>Political Education Section*
>*Includes Information, Cadre Development, and Recruitment.
>Political Education is one of a number of areas of work identified by the
>branch at its BEC on August 26, 2004. The others include Housing (with
>Billing, Crime & Security, and other matters having to do with
>residents as such); Economic Development (with Poverty, Funding, Labour,
>Domestics); Social Services; and Sports & Recreation.
>What is the purpose of Political Education?
>The main purpose of political education is to prepare cadres who can do
>the work of the movement.
>As soon as a leadership is formed it begins to deplete, because comrades
>are deployed to higher structures. Others move away. For these reasons
>the branch needs to generate a steady stream of new cadres who are ready
>to take up the leadership and administration of the branch.
>When political education is carried out consistently, it also becomes a
>way of recruiting new members. Ordinary citizens may be persuaded to
>attend classes, even though they might not be ready to pay a membership
>fee and join the ANC. So education classes can act as a stepping stone
>for smooth entry into the ANC.
>Gathering the membership and friends in local areas for the purpose of
>political education will also make it easier to launch sub-branches in
>those areas based on the students of political education.
>Through regular and frequent political education gatherings a lot of
>information can be distributed about branch activities (BGMs and
>What form does Political Education take?
>Because Political Education is intended to contribute to change in the
>world, it must take the form of a dialogue between people.
>The "bucket-and-tap" form of presentation, where students are
>and the teacher is a tap, is no good for the purpose of Political
>Therefore the form of Political Education is as follows:
> 1.. There is a short text. This is given so as to focus dialogue
>around a particular topic.
> 2.. There is no lecturer. One of the students has the task of
>opening the discussion. For the remainder of the session (total time of
>the session is one and a half hours) the participants discuss.
> 3.. There is a chairperson. The job of the chairperson is to
>encourage all participants to join in. The participants are supposed to
>become political cadres. Therefore they cannot afford to be shy when
>talking about politics, and still less so when they are safe among their
>own comrades. The chairperson encourages and protects them.
> 4.. The process is almost completely self-sustaining. It requires
>next to no inputs from above: no funding, no prescription, no
>infrastructure, no supervision, no report-backs, no cost. It requires
>somebody to get some suitable texts and to distribute them with
>invitations to attend at a venue and time, according to a schedule. The
>biggest difficulty is preparing and updating a database and communicating
>regularly with the people on the list (see below).
>This draft POA proposes that Political Education classes are commenced in
>one chosen locality, with a view to the creation of a Sub-branch in that
>locality, which can continue the work in due course by itself.
>Political Education classes will be commenced in the different areas of
>the Ward until the whole ward is covered with Sub-branches and their
>political education classes.
>The areas of the Ward are Kew East, North and South; Bramley; Lombardy
>East; Lombardy West; River Park; Glenhazel; Lyndhurst.
>This POA proposes commencing in Lombardy East where a sub-branch
>historically has existed, and then to Lyndhurst and Glenhazel, using if
>possible the proposed ANC branch office.
>The general plan is to consolidate in one area before moving to another.
>This will be a managed process requiring oversight and periodical review
>by the BEC.
>The choice of day is between a week day evening, a Saturday morning, a
>Saturday afternoon, a Sunday morning, and a Sunday afternoon.
>Duration of classes should be one and a half hours.
>This POA recommends in principle a weekday evening, from six to
>A free venue is preferred. If a public venue is not available, then
>comrades'houses will have to be used. In Lombardy East we can use the
>Club, and Glenhazel and Lyndhurst can both be served by the proposed
>The database (list) of people who will receive regular invitations to the
>study group must be prepared with the help of the branch, in the first
>place. It will be extended to include friends and interested members of
>the public in the area.
>The study group therefore becomes a bridge between the general public as
>constituents, and the membership of the ANC, across which people will
>pass from non-membership to membership, and from shy beginner to full
>The success of the study group depends on the regular issue of
>invitations and texts. The branch can help with texts (see below), but a
>study group, to be self-sustaining, should preferably be convened by
>somebody who is part of the study group. The more dedicated this person
>is, the better.
>The question of what texts to put in front of a group is not the most
>critical one. The requirement is that the text must be sufficient to
>generate dialogue of a political nature between the participants. There
>must be no sense of indoctrination or drilling involved. There should
>probably be a good mixture in the first place between classic political
>texts, on the one hand, and current documents and even journalism. There
>should be no sense of sectarian division between the Alliance Partners.
>There should be no attempt to insist on the use of particular texts. Wide
>freedom should be allowed to any study group to use any text it wishes.
>It should be regarded as a sign of the maturity of any particular study
>group, that it has preferences and particular interests it wishes to
>pursue. In practice, however, study groups will require to be given the
>material from which they will take their choices of topics, at least at
>Study groups in general, however, would always be well advised to devote
>an early session or two to the question of why they are there, and how
>they will work. For example, they could discuss this document. At a
>session early in their series they should probably discuss something like
>Chapter Two of Paulo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed". It
>is necessary that they apply their minds to what they are trying to
>achieve, and why.
>The study group has no standing in the democracy of the ANC. It does not
>elect delegates or vote on motions. As a result it is free from any
>requirement of coming to decisions or conclusions. Therefore it is not
>concerned to arrive at any line, orthodox or otherwise. It opens up
>matters for discussion, bringing them to the attention of participants.
>It is the other, higher, structures of the ANC that will come to
>conclusions and make decisions for action.
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