Training facility to acquire a qualification as a hairdresser in a prison in Belarus, © DVV International
The “Education opens doors” project ran in Belarus from 2015 to 2017, and offered access to education for prison inmates. Its focal points were: raising the number of inmates receiving education in penitentiary institutions, broadening the range and topics of educational programmes, and drawing the attention of prison staff and the broader public towards issues related to exercising the right to education.
595 prison inmates from six penitentiary institutions participated in the project. The topics and development of the educational programmes were based on the traditions and potential of each penitentiary institution involved, a survey of prison inmates’ educational needs, and opportunities for involvement by external experts and organisations.
As a result, prison inmates were given an opportunity to acquire one of five new professions (the main selection criterion was the lack or loss of qualifications); computer literacy, cooking, conflict-resolution skills, experience of volunteer activities and peer-to-peer learning. The training facilities were renovated and equipped as part of the project, and the partner relations that have been established serve as groundwork for further education.
For the first time in Belarus, prison inmates had an opportunity to obtain higher education through distance learning. 23 women in a correctional institution in Gomel have been admitted to University and are studying the subjects “Psychology”, “Information Management”, “Accounting, Analysis and Auditing” and “Economics and Company Management”.
The practice of distance learning is now being adopted by other penitentiary institutions, and proposals on providing distance learning courses for prison inmates on a broader scale have been submitted for inclusion in national legislation.
Country Director, DVV International Belarus
Project Coordinator, DVV International Belarus
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