By Annet Bakker, EPEA Chairperson
What a year this is/ was…. 2020 will definitely be engraved in our minds for the brutal disruption of our work, our lives and the health of our loved ones, not necessarily in that order.
Allthough this year brought changes in many ways, and our work was most of the time impossible for the limited or most of the times even prohibited access to the prisons, you and many of our colleagues managed to be very resourcefull in still providing online teaching or paperbased learning packages to help our students in their learning process.
Education is one of the ways to break the daily monotony of isolation and helps by providing a moment of development in stead of thoughts of fear for the unclear in the dependent situation our learners find themselves in.
EPEA SC sent letters to all European Ministries to ask their assistance to provide education as much as possible under the safest circumstances. We are happy to say that we received many replies that spoke of efforts made, but fortunately and unfortunately during the first lock down, the entire world had just one focus… safety. Nobody really knew what was the right thing to do.
Even now the differences in the ways teaching in prison is possible are still very widespread.
EPEA organized webinars and we met so many of you online, which was heartwarming and fruitfull. We shared experiences and material in several languages, still to be found on our website. I know that it at least helped me to provide material for foreign nationals in my prison. Hopefully many of you benefited from this exchange in the same way.
The world of projects was also turned upside down and many projects could not organize their meetings. 2020 is the year that brought most of us in online meetings as a daily routine. We still do not know whether this will help the necessary IT-development in prison education forward… it seems the logical way forward, but understanding and exectution have often proven to be two different things. I urge you all to keep this question alive in future discussions with your management.
Again, like 2019, the Steering committee itself has undergone quite some changes in its composition this year. We have said goodbye to our Regional representatives Patrizia Corasiniti (South) & Ruth MacFarlane (West), our project officer Daiana Hüber (Romania) and recently to our secretary José Pinto (Portugal). They are all very much appreciated for the enormous amount of time and effort they have put into the work of EPEA SC. Ruth has taken over the job as project Secretary and has already done a great job. Our Southern region is now represented by Marco Brancucci (Italy), our Western region by Ana Fernando (Belgium) and Jim King (Scotland) is holding the secretarial fort until at least, the elections in June next year. In January 2021 I personally will handover my duties as chair to Cormac Behan (Ireland). A bit sooner than the end of term, which is due in June 2021, but I felt it is the right moment to say goodbye for me, after 5,5 years of everyday EPEA activity in my live. I am very happy and grateful to leave the Steering Committee in the hands of this strong team of experienced colleagues.
Wishing you all a great 2021 with hopefully more possibilities for your professional and private lives,
On behalf of the EPEA Steering Committee,
By Annet Bakker, EPEA Chairperson