Distance Education for Dutch Citizens Detained Abroad: A Mixed-Methods Case Study of the Foundation ‘Education behind Foreign Bars’


Foreign national prisoners have less educational opportunities than national prisoners. Therefore, the Dutch foundation ‘Education behind Foreign Bars’ (Eabt) provides distance education to Dutch nationals detained abroad. A mixed-methods case study is carried out to gain insight into the perspective of professionals and volunteers who are involved with Eabt and of the students taking a course from Eabt. This study consists of individual interviews with volunteers and professionals and pre- and post-surveys among students.

The qualitative results show that following a course from Eabt happens in three steps:

(1) Informing,
(2) applying for the course, and
(3) starting with the course, doing homework, and being assessed.

During the course, students receive motivational and content-related support from the Netherlands and, depending on the local prison context, also from the detaining country. The professionals and volunteers identify various success factors and challenges of Eabt.

The quantitative results demonstrate that students are primarily motivated to participate by their wish to acquire knowledge and skills and to prepare for life after detention. The students are satisfied about the support received and they seem to have more confidence in the future due to the course.

Overall, Eabt is highly valued by both students, professionals, and volunteers.

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