ABSTRACT

Empowerment literally means to give ability to, to permit or enable. When we hear the word empowerment used in education, it is usually being employed in the spirit of critique. Its referent is the identification of oppressive and unjust relations within which there is an unwarranted limitation placed on human action, feeling, and thought. Such limitations are seen as constraining a person from the opportunity to participate on equal terms with other members of a group or community to whom have accrued the socially defined status of “the privileged”/“the competent.” To empower in this perspective is to counter the power of some people or groups to make others “mute.” To empower is to enable those who have been silenced to speak. It is to enable the self-affirming expression of experiences mediated by one’s history, language, and traditions. It is to enable those who have been marginalized economically and culturally to claim in both respects a status as full participating members of a community.