European countries generally have a desire to deliver high-quality education in prison and recognize the importance of education as one of the instruments to reduce recidivism and prepare and equip prisoners for a better life after detention. If well-organised, education enhances an individual’s opportunities in the labor market and contributes to their long-term social inclusion.
Recently, several EU Member States have announced their intentions to reform prison education, or are in the process of implementing prison reform, and are actively seeking information and best practice examples from colleagues across the continent. Recent economic developments have forced member states to be more creative in developing prison education. Digital and technological progress have demanded the development of digital applications for the prison environment, to help keep up to speed with mainstream society and with the demand for skills on the labor market. Difficult decisions are to be made if both financial restraints and quality requirements are to be considered.
EuroPris and the European Prison Education Association (EPEA) have been in close contact since the establishment of EuroPris. While the EPEA network is mainly a network of trainers and teachers, the EuroPris Expert Group would have a focus on management and vision of prison education. The Expert Group should encourage discussion and exchange on a European level to find common ground and vision, and produce practical outputs.
The EuroPris Expert Group on Prison Education, could help to further embed sound prison education practices within the overall management and governance of the prison estate.
On 8-9 June 2017, the expert group on Education in Prison met for the first time in Nicosia, Cyprus hosted by Ministry of Justice and Public Order, Department of Prisons. The group comprised of 11 experts from different European countries (Cyprus, Slovenia, Slovakia, Scotland, Rhineland-Palatinate Germany, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Germany, Ireland, Romania, Belgium and Georgia) and a member of the European Prison Education Association (EPEA) from Denmark. During this meeting, all experts presented how prisoner education is organized in Prison Service. After several discussions the group decided to draft a working paper that is based on and reviews the Council of Europe recommendation Rec. R (89) 12 on education in prison. The group will give advice on any necessary updates to the Recommendation and also collect examples of best practices in relation to the updated version of the articles of the recommendation.
The group was invited to take a tour to the prison in the Republic of Cyprus.
Supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union