Education behind bars

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From the Central Region – March 2019

Erasmus+ KA1 mobility project ‘Education behind bars’

From December 2017 through January 2019 Socially Excluded Educational Association ‘Busola’ was running an EU project thanks to which a few of its members could take part in job shadowing experiences and a training event. Countries involved in the project (hosts of the job shadowings and the training event) were: Spain, Ireland, the UK, Wales and Italy.

Project ‘Education behind bars’ was meant to be for people who are active prison educators and who work with prisoners in conditions of penitentiary isolation on a daily basis. Thanks to the active participation in the project, members of the ‘Busola’ Socially Excluded Educational Association (all prison educators who took part in mobilities are members of the association at the same time) raised their professional qualifications. Project activities also translated into:

– quality improvement of the prison educators’ own work ethics thanks to the knowledge and experience gained during the foreign mobilities,

– improvement in language, methodological and personal competences among the members of the association who were involved in mobilities,

– an increase of possibilities of personal and professional development,

– promoting openness attitude of understanding and sensitivity to cultural and language diversity,

– internationalization of the association and networking with penitentiary units in the EU countries,

– building foundations for implementation of new projects within Erasmus+ programme in the future.

There were 10 members of the “Busola” socially excluded educational association who took part in the project. They took part in 12 foreign mobilities in total. Majority of the mobilities (10) were job shadowings. The remaining 2 were connected with a training activity.

The main result of the project is the improvement of the quality of prison educators’ work with an emphasis on raising the quality of education in the range of using arts as social rehabilitation factor as well as in the range of teaching foreign languages and subjects connected with IT. We managed to introduce new (new in Polish reality) ways of working with inmates. What we mean here is artistic workshops with the use of felt or using unknown for us so far software and applications useful in teaching foreign languages. The association’s abilities to act on the EU level have risen significantly, too.

Taking part in the KA1 project enabled us to make the prison educators’ educational offer more attractive as well as it helped the members of the association to increase their motivation to take similar challenges in the future. The imperative aim of the implemented innovations is to present advantages that new methods and forms of working with inmates can provide. What is more, getting to know with new methods and forms of working with prisoners in other countries as well as networking with colleagues from abroad enabled us to enrich working techniques especially in the scope of teaching foreign languages and using IT techniques when teaching prisoners. In order to assure durability of the results, participants of the project shared their experiences and newly gained knowledge with other members of the association, prison school teachers and prison workers. In effect, project implementation contributed to working out fruitful results which can be noticed not just during the execution of the main project tasks but also after the project has been finished. It is worth mentioning some of the dissemination activities: accounts from the training events, discussions during the teaching staff meetings of the prison school in Płock or staff meetings of the prison workers as well as training meetings at school, during which newly learnt ideas abroad were passed on to the other teachers. Potential long-term benefits are raising the quality of the educational offer of the association for its members and students-inmates and raising the quality of international cooperation.

Summing up, the implementation of the Erasmus+ project “Education behind the bars” had a significant influence on the development of the ‘Busola’ Socially Excluded Educational Association. Thanks to the systematic work of the participants, project aims were fulfilled and contributed to working out sustainable results. This was the first project within the Erasmus+ Adult education programme implemented by ‘Busola’ socially excluded educational association but most probably its members will try to get a new financial grant for new activities which will positively influence the association’s activities.