Youth empowerment for the most vulnerable: a model based on the pedagogy of Freire and experiences in the field

Mohajer, Nicole, and Earnest, Jaya (2009) Youth empowerment for the most vulnerable: a model based on the pedagogy of Freire and experiences in the field. Health Education, 109 (5). pp. 424-438.

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Purpose – This paper aims to review global adolescent empowerment programmes and develops and proposes a model that can be used with vulnerable adolescents. The model reflects theory and experience drawn from the literature.

Design/methodology/approach – The review is a synthesis of articles on empowerment theory, models and programme evaluations. Literature is selected and critiqued that reflects aspects of empowerment as described by Freire or relating to empowering models that could be generalised and related specifically to vulnerable adolescent programmes. Vulnerable adolescents within the context of this paper have been identified as those experiencing social, economic, cultural or physical disadvantage.

Findings – The findings document that empowerment programmes do not fully integrate the theory or pedagogy of empowerment as described by Freire. In most cases the goals of empowerment programmes, when stated, do not reflect the transformative or social action aspects of empowerment theory. Nevertheless there are sufficient examples of successful empowerment programmes with marginalised populations to warrant more rigorous application and evaluation of empowerment theory with this population in a variety of social settings. The relationship between the facilitator and participants and the development of critical consciousness are two vital aspects of empowerment theory that are unexplored and need further study.

Research limitations/implications – Many empowerment programmes for vulnerable adolescents in resource-poor countries have not been evaluated or have not been published. Lack of consistency in the use of terminology and evaluation also makes it difficult to compare studies.

Originality/value – This paper proposes a model of empowerment that could be effective in addressing the health needs of marginalised adolescents and is based on theory and field experiences.

Item ID: 18225
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-714X
Keywords: empowerment, adolescents, disadvantaged groups
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2011 07:11
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health @ 100%
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