Participation, literacy and empowerment: the continuing evolution of Reflect
As part of the special issue of PLA Notes, this article looks at the evolution of the Reflect program pioneered by the INGO ActionAid. Looking back at an issue of PLA Notes on participation, literacy and empowerment in 1998, the authors look at the Reflect approach and its historical links with PRA. The Reflect program began as a fusion of Paulo Freire's theoretical framework on the politics of literacy with the participatory methodologies developed by PRA practitioners. The Reflect approach has now spread through the work of at least 350 different organizations in more than 60 countries, and this article looks at the key moments in the continuing evolution. Some of the main issues addressed in the article include Reflect as a political process; creating democratic spaces; intensive and extensive processes and building from existing experiences; the importance of integrating reflection and action; the role and use of participatory tools; power analysis; coherence; and processes of self-organisation. The authors also look at future directions for Reflect, such as the integration of Reflect with the Stepping Stones approach (a participatory adult education program to address gender relations and HIV/AIDS prevention) to create STAR; linking Reflect to governance and accountability; Reflect and information communication technologies; reflect within institutions and applying Reflect to ourselves.