Frances Curran

Frances Curran

Education For Liberation

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Want to get inspired? Frances Curran invites you to the Popular Education Network (PEN) weekend this November. She looks at the historical precedent for these educational weekends and explains why they’re the perfect place for socialists to sharpen their swords…

For left activists who want to change the world, or more specifically Scotland, campaigns and actions are important, but so too is taking the time to think reflect and discuss ideas. 

The Popular Education residential weekend at Braemar on November 17-19 is an important part of the calendar. Activists from RISE, SSP, Better than Zero, Community campaigns, housing campaigns, food poverty campaigns and much more will be brought together under one roof to think, reflect and plan.

Education has always been important for movements who want to fight for democratic rights or socialist transformational change. Popular Education For Liberation originated in Brazil and was a base for mass movements seeking social and political change in the 1960s and 1970s.

The mass civil rights movement that inspired a generation in the US didn’t come from nowhere. Months before she refused to give up her seat on the bus, the heroic Rosa Parks was a lifelong activist who’d spent time at the Highlander Institute, a place for popular and radical education. She herself described it as an “important, transformative time”.


An accurate description of where we’re at is “capitalism in crisis” despite huge wealth and “political instability”. In periods such as these, there are chances for far reaching transformation where millions of people take part in movements to change their world.

We had a whiff of this mood during the Independence Referendum, and we only need to glimpse across to Catalonia or look at the Corbyn and Sanders campaigns to see a generation crying out for something new.

That change won’t come from nowhere. At the PEN weekend, we will imagine “the Scotland we want to be”, but we need to educate ourselves and propose concrete ideas and campaigns alongside a strategy and organisation to make it happen.

Participatory sessions will include:

  • Community Organising – taking back the power with Linda Sommerville and Dawn Fyffe

  • The People’s Land with former SSV editor Alan McCombes

  • Grand Designs – a home for everyone with RISE co-organiser Sean Baillie

  • Scotland’s wealth – identifying it and reclaiming it with Frances Curran and Andy Glen

  • A New Kind of Participatory Democracy with Sarah Collins and Connor Beaton

  • Plus: an art wall of victories, curated by Suki Sangha, song and poetry reading, street theatre, planning, good food and a Saturday night party.

Cost for food, accommodation and transport over the whole weekend is £55 (or £40 unwaged). You can book your place here. The coach leaves at 4.30pm on Friday November 17 and returns to Glasgow at 2.30pm on Sunday November 19.



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