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Setting-up the Scene for the SkillHUBS Model with an Insightful Research Report

In this project ICPA is partnering with: Centre for Education and Culture Trebnje, Slovenian Institute for Adult Education, European Association for Education of Adults, National Learning and Work Institute, University of Malta – Prison Education and Re-Entry Programme, Penitenciarul Baia Mare, European Prison Education Association, Department of Penitentiary Institutions of the Republic of Moldova, Creative Corrections Europe.

Focusing on skills assessment, recognition, validation and development of inmates’ skills, SkillHubs aims at facilitating the smooth transition of offenders from prison into society through education. The project’s ultimate aim is the up-skilling and, particularly for those who experienced longer sentences, the re-skilling of inmates’ abilities.

In order to achieve this goal, the project established some recommendations based on data collected throughout the project. To name just a few:

There was a clear case of a gender gap within research in educational provision – females were underrepresented, with only one female respondent. This is a clear micro-reality of the bigger picture. Females often have less options in terms of prison education, generally due to cost-effectiveness. SkillHubs recommends the design of specific gender upskilling programmes. The same can be said to age and nationality of the inmates.

Skillhubs gathered 22 languages from 6 countries, which depicts the challenge of language and communication in devising any programme in prison. It is recommended that visuals and verbal assessments take predominance in programmes.

Security features, such as the classification of the prison, need to be taken into consideration when designing an upskilling programme; each programme is limited to the equipment which may be used. The majority of the SkillHubs respondents came from a closed prison.

Furthermore, education in prison is provided by ‘outsiders’. Since they are not familiar with the realities or prison, SkillHubs recommends a training programme for teachers to teach in a prison environment.

Continuity of prison education is highly recommended. Records should always be designed in a way that they move with the inmate whenever one changes prison for whatever reason.

Additionally, challenges related to sentence length, employment and motivation, work in prison, general education and literacy, embedded learning, motivation as well as the value of education was looked into. Moreover, Skillhubs caters for basic numeracy, digital literacy, Critical and Creative thinking, and Problem Solving skills. For each area, recommendations based on data collected as well as European best practices were provided.