What is Reflect?

Reflect is an innovative approach to adult learning and social change, which fuses the theories of Paulo Freire with the methodologies of participatory rural appraisal. Originally developed in pilot projects in Bangladesh, El Salvador and Uganda between 1993-95, Reflect is now used by over 500 organisations in around 70 countries worldwide.

To illustrate the key elements of Reflect we have created a tree diagram, which is a visualisation technique used in Reflect groups. The structure of roots and branches allow groups to analyse cause and effect or inputs and outputs in different situations. Here we use the roots of the tree to symbolise the key principles of Reflect. The branches show how Reflect has been adapted for use in diverse contexts.

How does Reflect work?

Reflect provides an on-going democratic space for a group of people to meet and discuss issues relevant to them. The participants choose the topics themselves, according to their own priorities and supported by a local facilitator. They also decide where and when to meet.

Underpinning the approach is a huge (and ever expanding) range of participatory methods. Prominent among these are graphics such as calendars, maps, matrices, rivers and trees, which enable participants to communicate their knowledge, experience and feelings without being restricted by literacy and language barriers. Drama, storytelling and songs are also used to identify and analyse social, economic, cultural and political issues. In this process the development of literacy and other communication skills are closely linked to the engagement of people in wider processes of development and social change.