Community Development Institute (CDI), as a funded memeber of Lifelong Learning Network Macedonia, is an organisation which with partnership with DVV International-Germany. The CDI planned, organised and implemented a project within the Operational programme for Human Resource Development for a new approach for effective social inclusion (i.e. trainings for prisoners in some of the prisons in Macedonia).
The project was funded by the European Union, implemented by the Central Financing and Contracting Department within the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. The overall objectives of the project are to contribute to the creation of favorable environment for reintegration of the offenders into society. We provided opportunity for prisoners to learn new skills and to be competitive at the labor market after their sentence is served. The specific goals of the project were:
- Increasing the capacity of the prisons in Tetovo and Shtip to deliver trainings for gaining vocational skills and qualifications demanded on the labor market;
- Decreasing the number of returnees in prisons;
- Gaining new knowledge and skills for people who are serving a sentence in prison for increasing the competitiveness on the labor market;
- Acquisition and conveying regular educational activities for convicts in the prison in Tetovo and the Correctional Institution in Shtip.
The following topics were implemented during the project:
- Training on information technology (Computer literacy and programmes)
- English language training
- Training for barbers
- Training for bakers
- Training on horticultural decoration.
To achieve the goals, the project partners equiped the prison facilities with technical and computer equipment, observing instruments and aids.The training was delivered by trainers who come from educational institutions or licensed institutions as bidders of informal education.
As one of the trainers during the training (English teacher), I would like to express my own reflection of the whole process and how this project changed me and hopefully gave some kind of contribuiton to the community in Macedonia.
When I initially heard about this project, I was interested and challenged at the same time. For me, it was a chance to help these people, the prisoners, and give them a little hope and vision what could they do when they serve their sentence and go out in the ‘real world’ again. I had a chance to change their perspective in a way by making them more competent on the labor market so they include themselves in the society as soon as possible and start their lives all over again this time on the ‘right track’ which is not an easy task for them to do.
I also had my suspicions about my own safety and will I be able to give my best to the candidates knowing the surrounding where I would have the classes.
At this point of view, when the project is behind me-finished, I can make an objective review of it as a whole and give my feedback. I was positively surprised of the attitude of the candidates towards the whole course. They were very committed to the work and always present during the classes. Their genuine interest made me even more motivated to give my best and help them overcome the obstacles they had more easily. Their respect towards me and their acceptance, made me feel so welcomed and even if we had a guard or a psychologist present most of the time with us during the classes, I felt no fear at all and our classes were always productive, with great deal of humor and great atmosphere.
All of the candidates successfully finished the course and learnt the basics of the English language. They all agreed that this course must have a continuum to a next level. They were very satisfied and thankful that they got an opportunity like this so when this life is behind them they can return to their families and do more.
I would like to encourage all of the organisations to participate in projects like this one, a project which will give the prisoners a chance to feel needed in the society as productive individuals. In this way, we help them find themselves again and help the society in reducing the crime.
Snezana Danilovska, English teacher and project trainer
Lifelong learning Network Macedonia