From Little Words, Big Words Grow: Annotations on the Yo, Sí Puedo Experience in Brewarrina, Australia

Yes, I can

This article is a reflection on the application of the Cuban literacy methodology Yo, Sí Puedo to the Australian setting. The Yo, Sí Puedo / Yes, I Can! model developed in Cuba by the Instituto Pedagógico Latinoamericano y Caribeño, IPLAC (Institute of Pedagogy for Latin America and the Caribbean) has been successfully implemented across the Global South as a strategy of adult literacy. It is a legacy of our Latin American revolutionary roots, with its origin in the Freirean pedagogy of the oppressed. Expanding across continents this model continues to teach reading and writing to disenfranchised adults in marginal and Indigenous communities, from the Argentinean Chaco to Brewarrina in northern NSW, Australia. Its aim is to contribute to the hope of improving the health and educational outcomes of the country’s First Peoples. This article is indebted to conversations with the Cuban advisor of Yes, I Can!, José Manuel Chala Leblanch. Observing him working in the classroom setting of Brewarrina touched me at different levels: personally because it reminded me of my own family experiences with the education system in my country, Argentina; and professionally as an educator negotiating different languages and cultures. It also reinforced my belief in the importance of incorporating Indigenous ways of learning and teaching to Western styles of teaching and learning. I built this reflection moving from personal and poetic—visual and textual—narratives and observations to academic interventions informed by researched literature on adult and Indigenous education.