November 2018 – Portugal
On the 17th of November the first General Assembly Meeting of the Associação Portuguesa de Educação nas Prisões (APEnP) – Portuguese Prison Education Association, was held at the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD), in the city of Vila Real. The following is a summary of the main decisions taken:
At this meeting, and in accordance with the Portuguese Civil Code, the Constitution of the APEnP was approved and statutory bodies elected (cf. General Assembly Board / Executive Board / Fiscal Board).
Prison teachers/trainers and also higher education lecturers and researchers from several institutions were elected for the boards.
Regional Representatives (RR), who will be representing the four different regions of Portugal, were chosen for the Executive Board: RR for the Northern Region; RR for the Central Region; RR for Great Lisbon and the Islands of Madeira and Azores; RR for the Southern Region.
It was also approved that the Portuguese Prison Education Association’s Office be located at the Department of Education and Psychology of UTAD.
However, and before continuing, it is necessary to travel back in time and get to know the most important moments/decisions taken in the (short) life of the APEnP in order to understand the process of creation, from its beginning to present day:
Portuguese Prison Education Association – Chronology of events
Meeting of July (2017)
- A group of 6 teachers (Basic, Secondary and Higher Education) met at the Department of Education and Psychology of the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro to discuss the setting up of a national organisation in the field of Prison Education (PE) and agreed to create an Interim Committee.
- A request was addressed to the Rector of UTAD to authorise the establishment of the APEnP’s Office in the Department of Education and Psychology.
Meeting of November (2017)
- A letter was written and sent via e-mail with the purpose to invite institutions/individuals to collaborate in the creation of the Portuguese Prison Education Association, namely: Ministries of Education; Science, Technology and Higher Education; Justice; Directorate General for Reintegration and Prison Services; Institute for Employment and Professional Training; Vocational Training Centre for the Justice Sector; National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Training; Schools Associated with Prison Establishments and also Prison Establishments.
- An institutional email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) and a webpage (https://www.utad.pt/echs/) were created in order to facilitate the exchange of information and to provide updates on the formation of the APEnP.
Meeting of April (2018)
- (Positive) Responses to the letter were analysed, selection of candidates to the boards prepared and some invitations made.
- Following suggestions/ideas/proposals received and also incorporating Interim Committee’s, the Action Programme of the APEnP started to be prepared.
Meeting of June (2018)
- Beginning of the writing of the APEnP’s Constitution in which both EPEA’s and Portuguese law (Civil Code) had to be accommodated.
Meeting of September (2018)
- A draft of the APEnP’s Constitution was presented. A discussion period followed, some articles were amended and it was approved by the Interim Committee before being submitted to the General Assembly for final approval.
Meeting of October (2018)
- The Action Programme of the APEnP was presented and approved.
- The candidates’ list to the boards also approved.
- The first General Assembly Meeting called for the following month (November 17, 2018)
The Action Programme of the APEnP for the mandate 2018-2022 presented and approved at the General Assembly Meeting is briefly outlined as follows:
- Stimulating and enhancing education in Portuguese prisons as per the Council of Europe Recommendations.
- Positioning the APEnP as a privileged interlocutor of professionals who carry out their activity in prisons – participating in debates / meetings with political decision makers responsible for the design and implementation of policies in the field of PE.
- Tackling low skills among prison population by motivating inmates to participate in education and training programmes and also to access higher education courses.
- Offering training programmes for teachers and other actors in the prison context, in addition to promoting and disseminating activities, good practices, participation in projects, as well as encouraging research and production of knowledge in the Prison Education area.
- Conducting a study at the national level, aiming at getting to know the professional who teaches in prisons, namely: professional experience; notion(s) of PE; skills required; training needs;…
Note: This study should be concluded in 2020.
- Promoting the organisation of conferences, congresses, thematic debates and other activities related to PE and accredited by the Portuguese Scientific and Pedagogical Council of In-service Training.
Note: The Congress of the APEnP will be held biennially and two events are planned for the 2018-2022 mandate:
2020 and 2022 respectively.
- Producing a bimonthly Newsletter with contents of associates, collaborators and also ex-offenders that may take various forms: (scientific) articles; interviews; literary texts; reports on activities, events;…
So far, so good…, now what?
After a journey of hard but also stimulating work, it is still necessary to comply with the formalities required by the EPEA for the Portuguese Prison Education Association to become an effective member of this Organisation, i.e., the Portuguese branch of the EPEA. Nevertheless, the hardest part is already done.
One year and a half has passed since we started this initiative. Now, the dream is about to come true…
by José Pinto
– President APEnP