Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William F. Pinar


In contrast to the elitism of the Brazilian formal education system are the efforts of educators at federal universities in promoting educational alternatives for the socioeconomically underprivileged population. Having reached its peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s and culminating with Paulo Freire's successful "conscientization" experiment in Angicos, educational alternatives were revitalized in the 1980s upon the nation's "return to democracy." Since then, Brazilian universities have committed themselves to contribute to the struggle for social transformation. Mission and objective statements of individual universities express their attitude towards active involvement in the process of alleviating educational and socioeconomic inequities which affect the Brazilian society. Alternatives examined include: Distance Learning--Open University and Educational Television, Adult Literacy programs, developed under Paulo Freire's perspective of education for liberation, and Community Development Programs. Open university programs function as a powerful resource to provide educational opportunities to hard-to-reach populations. Training a small number of individuals, the programs reach a large number of individuals through successive transfer of knowledge and technology. Research involving educational television indicate that programs are more likely to be effective in educating low-income populations when they are directly related to issues and problems concerning the community, not when they attempt to simply reproduce the formal education curriculum. After approximately two decades, Paulo Freire's literacy method is overtly implemented not only on university campuses, to meet the educational needs of illiterate employees, but also as a fundamental component of community development programs. Promoting "conscientization," adult literacy programs enable individuals to reflect and act upon the transformation of their reality. Community development programs resort to interdisciplinary work in order to provide communities with development in several areas concurrently. Due to the volunteer nature of this research, results are limited in scope to participating universities.