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Professor Russell Bishop presented with the Paulo Freire Award of Social Justice

22 August 2010

Te Kotahitanga Project Director Professor Russell Bishop has been presented with the Paulo Freire Democratic Project Social Justice Award from Chapman University in Los Angeles.

The award was presented to acknowledge his leadership in developing and directing the Te Kotahitanga project, which is now running in 50 New Zealand mainstream secondary schools. The programme is designed to lift Māori achievement by improving caring and learning relationships in the classrooms and in the wider school.

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“I was blown away,” says Prof Bishop. “It’s a huge honour to receive this. Paulo Freire fought for education for oppressed peoples and was a leader in education reform. Only two other people have received the award since it was instigated by Chapman’s College of Educational Studies in 2002 so I have to admit, I do feel pretty special.

“However, it is more important to acknowledge that this award is more for the hundreds of people who work in the project team and the schools who are dedicated to addressing what is one of the most urgent issues facing us in Aotearoa New Zealand today; that is the educational disparities that affect Māori people and the whole country.”

Professor Bishop, based in Waikato’s Faculty of Education, was nominated for the award by Professor Suzanne SooHoo of Chapman University following her recent visit to Waikato University on study leave where she worked with the Te Kotahitanga team on a specific project about what constitutes culturally responsive pedagogies.

Previous recipients of the Paulo Freire award are Peter McLaren, Professor of Education at UCLA and Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy and Culture at the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Russell received a plaque and a “huge” screen print of Paulo Freire’s first wife, which he’ll be hanging in his office in the Faculty of Education.

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