Final event of the project “Education opens doors” in Minsk

The EU-project had as its aim the expansion of access to education for prison inmates. In March the organisations involved met in Minsk to evaluate its results.

In several workshops, the participants of the event evaluated the results of the project.

The DVV International country office in Belarus, along with its partner organisations, implemented the EU-project “Education opens doors” in 2015 and 2016. The organisations involved in the project, which had as its aim the expansion of access to education for prison inmates, met for a final event at the end of March.

Representatives of DVV International Belarus, the non-governmental organisation Community Development Projects, the Department of Penal Administration, the penitentiary institutions involved as well the EU Delegation to Belarus attended the event. Together, they discussed and evaluated the results of the project.

The main outcomes at a glance:

- Around 600 inmates in penitentiaries in Gomel Region took part in educational programmes implemented within six mini-projects. Ten training facilities in different correctional institutions were renovated and equipped. The participants received training in the professions of “stove setter”, “welder”, “hairdresser” as well as “manicurist and make-up artist”, and they acquired computer skills, learned how to plan a budget but also, for example, how to resolve conflicts.

- Through the opening of a centre for distance learning on the premises of a correctional institution in the city of Gomel, inmates were able to get higher education instruction via distance learning for the first time in the Republic of Belarus. 23 female prisoners used this opportunity and studied subjects such as economics, accounting, management and psychology.

- Penitentiary institution specialists also had an opportunity to improve their competencies. 125 people took part in training seminars on the right to education, theory and practice of adult education, as well as international practices of prison education. A number of specialists also took part in study visits to Latvia and Germany.

- The Gomel Recommendations on Developing Education in Penitentiary Institutions of the Republic of Belarus were developed and adopted in the framework of the project.

During the final meeting the participants emphasised the role of educational programmes in preparing inmates for reintegration into society, reducing proneness to conflicts and recidivism among those who underwent training during incarceration. Positive changes also occurred in the attitudes of both prison inmates and staff towards lifelong learning in these institutions. Appreciation as well as awareness was raised regarding the importance of education for social rehabilitation.

More details on the project results are outlined in the final report.

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