Art as means to develop low skilled inmates

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From the Central Region – March 2019

Prison education seems to be a very neglected field. Many inmates do not have any opportunity to develop themselves due to various barriers – be it system barriers, local ones within penitentiary units, etc. Very often it is thought that prisoners should not be given a second chance to rehabilitate. Many of these prisoners are extremely talented and skilled, especially artistically. Art seems to play a very important part of their lives. They can express themselves, they can “create” their own world and at the same time they can spend their time more productively.

The project that we want to develop intends to inspire prison educators to use art education in prisons as a vehicle to “smuggle” basic skills into informal learning in EU prisons. Our project is designed to facilitate the process through which economically or socially disadvantaged groups of society (namely prisoners, in our case) could start acquiring or developing their skills while doing artistic activities. By saying ‘skills’ we mean not only tangible skills, e.g. based on artistic formats, IT, mathematical or literacy skills but also developing features that are intangible, i.e. personal skills – self-confidence, sensitiveness or sensibility, etc.

Our project ,,Art as means to develop low skilled inmates”  aims to strengthen the capacity of the European institutions and organizations by sharing learning and good practice examples of informal education through different means in order to effectively represent interests of the economically or socially disadvantaged groups. The project is based on a creative scheme involving prison tutors and a number of other outer institutions in participating project countries. The project offers informal and creative learning opportunities for prisoners through a series of trainings, workshops, lessons, etc. These learning opportunities all revolve around artistic activities. Activities will be planned in such a way that inmates will also acquire basic skills (we assume that some of those skills will be learned automatically, unwittingly).

The strategic goal is the possibility of organizing additional classes/activities/workshops for prisoners whose educational offer in prisons is limited. Thanks to the project inmates will receive a broadened educational offer and, in the end, – they will gain new skills. Also, when talking about prison educators, they will get the chance to flourish as an educational leader, and to maximize the impact of their work within the prison education environment.

Participants/educators will also exchange their practices and ideas about teaching adult inmates’ basic skills while doing arts.

There has already been the very first kick-off meeting. It took place in January and we were welcome by the Irish partner. It was a very important meeting because we all prepared a road map of the project. All partners are now preparing their own activities within their institutions and the next meeting is planned in September 2019.