November 2018 – Larisas Prison, Greece
On Monday 15th October, the teachers and students of the Gymnasium and Lyceum that operates within the Avlonas Prison for Young Offenders decided to set aside the curriculum and celebrate, instead, the International Day of Prison Education.
Quite shocking was the realisation that the majority of our students believed that being able to attend school while incarcerated was a privilege and not their right…
Thus, we began the day with a powerpoint presentation of the Recommendation R.89(12) of the Council of Europe, using the EPEA site where we found the Recommendation in every language necessary to accommodate our multilingual school community.
Our students participated with enthusiasm in the discussion of issues and problems regarding prison education. They, also, understood that their social, economic and cultural backgrounds do not hinder their education, but rather enhance their opportunities for self-improvement. Ways to ameliorate prison education were proposed, the need for additional cultural programmes was stressed, and means to overcome the obstacles they face regarding schooling were offered. Following the discussion, we had the pleasure of watching a shadow play performance written and directed by previous students of our school entitled ‘Karagiozis imprisoned’.
The highlight of this day was the creation of an art project; students and teachers hung a sheet of paper on one of the walls and ‘portrayed’ their own thoughts on prison education. Nationalities, languages and cultures merged to create a work of art. Everybody tried their best to create an image of what the school means to them…For most of our students, the school is a taste of freedom, a glimpse of hope, a way to escape the misery of their incarcerated life.
All in all, it was a brilliant day for prison education!
by Sophia Samara
– English teacher-EPEA Hellas treasurer