Report from the European Prison Education Association
Behan, Cormac, Journal of Correctional Education
European Prison Education Association International Conference 2009
The 12th International European Prison Education Association (EPEA) conference will take place in Cyprus from 29th October to 1 st November 2009. The conference title is Liberation through Education. The conference will provide a mix of analysis, dialogue and practice drawing on a diverse range of activities taking place internationally within the field of prison education. It will provide participants with opportunities to exchange best practice, showcase their work, meet fellow educators and develop ideas and pedagogy that will feed into their professional development which they can bring back to their colleagues and students.
The conference will facilitate prison education practitioners; providers and policy makers to explore innovative developments as well as best practice, exchange research findings and new project and programme strategies. The conference is an ideal opportunity for sharing of ideas and experiences among those interested in prison education.
The conference will focus on a number of key themes such as the Education of Juveniles in Prison, the Role of the Creative Arts in the Prison Curriculum and Pre and Post-release Initiatives. The conference objectives are to:
* Provide an international forum for discussion on the meaning of prison education and related conference themes.
* Share information on a range of prison education practices, programmes and projects.
* Explore the concept and relevance of prison education within rapidly changing attitudes to imprisonment and an unfavourable economic climate.
* Disseminate information regarding best practice and innovative strategies taking place internationally.
* Outline current research findings relevant to prison education.
* Facilitate networking among the EPEA membership and others interested in prison education.
* Showcase examples of best practice either through workshops presentations or poster workshop exhibits.
As with all previous conferences the presentations will be accessible after the conference on the EPEA website, www.epea.org where further details about the conference and the EPEA are available.
For those who may not be familiar with the EPEA, one of the main objectives is to promote the education of prisoners according to the Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (89):12. This recommends the governments of member States of the Council of Europe implement policies which recognise the following:
All prisoners shall have access to education, which is envisaged as consisting of classroom subjects, vocational education, creative and cultural activities, physical education and sports, social education and library facilities;
Education for prisoners should be like the education provided for similar age groups in the outside world, and the range of learning opportunities for prisoners should be as wide as possible;
Education in prison shall aim to develop the whole person bearing in mind his or her social, economic and cultural context;
All those involved in the administration of the prison system and the management of prisons should facilitate and support education as much as possible;
Education should have no less a status than work within the prison regime and prisoners should not lose out financially or otherwise by taking part in education;
Every effort should be made to encourage the prisoner to participate actively in all aspects of education;
Development programmes should be provided to ensure that prison educators adopt appropriate adult education methods;
Special attention should be given to those prisoners with particular difficulties and especially those with reading or writing problems; Vocational education should aim at the wider development of the individual, as well as being sensitive to trends in the labour market;
Prisoners should have direct access to a well-stocked library at least once per week;
Physical education and sports for prisoners should be emphasised and encouraged;
Creative and cultural activities should be given a significant role because these activities have particular potential to enable prisoners to develop and express themselves;
Social education should include practical elements that enable the prisoner to manage daily life within the prison, with a view to facilitating the return to society;
Wherever possible, prisoners should be allowed to participate in education outside prison;
Where education has to take place within the prison, the outside community should be involved as fully as possible;
Measures should be taken to enable prisoners to continue their education after release;
The funds, equipment and teaching staff needed to enable prisoners to receive appropriate education should be made available. …