Project Basic Andragogical Training for Prison Educators (BATPE) is supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (project ID number: 2018-1-RS01-KA204-000433). Coordinator of the project is Serbian Association of Andragogists (SAA) from Belgrade (Serbia), and the partners on the project are Koinè, the voluntary organization from San Felice a Cancello (Italy) and Gebze Public Education Center (GPEC) from Gebze (Turkey).
According to the working plan during the BATPE project extension BATPE curriculum and BATPE manual were finalized by the 15th of January 2020. These two documents represent intellectual outputs and main results of the BATPE project. After the finalization of the BATPE curriculum and manual the dissemination activities within the project were initiated (this happened right after the 15th of January 2020). The stage of evaluation of the project results started after the 1st of February 2020. Evaluation of the project results (according to the project application) was focused on investigating perception of those who were previously provided with BATPE curriculum and manual about: the main interests of BATPE curriculum and manual (individual and social); importance, potential and opportunities that BATPE curriculum and manual possess in context of permanent education of teachers in prisons; importance, potential and opportunities that BATPE curriculum and manual possess in terms of contributing indirectly to improving the quality of work and life of prison staff and prisoners; importance, potential and opportunities that BATPE curriculum and manual possess in terms of contributing indirectly to the development of prisoners' competencies required for their social reintegration and reducing the rate of recidivism among former prisoners; and application of the BATPE curriculum and manual in work (the main contribution of BATPE curriculum and manual to work of staff with different profiles).
The electronic questionnaire about abovementioned issues was delivered to representatives of relevant institutions that were previously involved in dissemination activities. They were asked to provide the feedback and share information in order to evaluate BATPE curriculum and manual and to make contribution to increase of the quality of BATPE curriculum and manual before these are practically applied. The questionnaire consists of 8 questions. Total number of respondents that answered the questionnaire was 9. The questions, the main results of the inquiry and respondents’ comments are presented below.
1. How do you assess the potential contribution of the BATPE Curriculum and the BATPE Handbook to the development of teachers' andragogical competencies for working with prisoners?
Respondents declared that BATPE curriculum and manual can absolutely contribute (5 respondents), greatly contribute (2 respondents) or have a little contribution (2 respondents) to the development of teachers' andragogical competencies for working with prisoners. Some of the comments were:
“In addition to the curriculum and manual, it is necessary to organize and deliver training, which requires funding (budget) and support from relevant institutions and line ministries”
“The contribution is evident because BATPE curriculum and manual covered all the segments necessary for successful educational work with a specific group of students/trainees in specific conditions (psychology, motivation, learning styles, organization, teaching methods and materials, communication...), in order to improve the professional competencies of educators in prisons, but also to support the re-socialization, reintegration and reduction of prisoner recurrence”
“The overriding contribution is reflected in the fact that BATPE curriculum and manual can reduce potential obstacles to the prisoner's learning process. They indicate how to better motivate prisoners, how to improve communication with them. It raises the quality of teaching”
BATPE curriculum and manual are designed with the awareness that prisoners are a specific category, it is necessary to respect their experiences and mutual individual differences in order to achieve the expected educational and functional goals”
“In order to achieve success, it is necessary to start with a more organized development of competences, which by now is largely missing and BATPE could be the solution”
“Improving the andragogical competences of teachers working with prisoners is a basic prerequisite for their successful work - the BATPE curriculum and the BATPE manual comprehensively approach the development of these competencies: adequate use of theoretical backgrounds and starting points, results of relevant research, recommendations of strategic documents of different levels of generality make the proposed BATPE curriculum and manual empower teachers to successfully work with prisoners”
Having in mind the results of the inquiry it could be said that professionals engaged in prison education affairs have positive opinion toward potential contribution of BATPE curriculum and manual in terms of permanent and continuing educational preparation of teachers in prisons. BATPE curriculum and manual are perceived as comprehensive covering all necessary segments and competencies needed by teachers in prisons for their adequate educational work with prisoners. It is obvious that the lack of similar trainings are present and recognized but also there is the recognition of the need for practical application of proposed training in order to prepare teachers in prison in optimal manner so they can provide adequate education to prisoners in order to reintegrate them into society.
2. In your opinion, the "BATPE Curriculum" and the "BATPE Manual":
a) Should be part of the mandatory preparation of teachers to work with prisoners;
b) Should not be part of the mandatory preparation of teachers to work with prisoners;
c) Something else.
Six respondents expressed the opinion that BATPE curriculum and manual should be part of the mandatory preparation of teachers to work with prisoners and three respondents chose “something else”. The comments were following:
“The BATPE curriculum and manual are excellent educational offerings within continuing vocational education/training for professionals in the field of adult education. They should exist as an elective option in the SAA program, which should primarily address the continuing professional development of its members, through the preparation and implementation of training”
“BATPE curriculum and manual should be incorporated into mandatory educational preparation of prison educators because, taking into account different life experiences, learning styles, motivation of students, the curriculum and manual provide adequate information and guidance for working with them, as well as detailed description of the educational exercises”
“BATPE curriculum and manual should be incorporated into mandatory educational preparation of prison educators because of fundamental nature of these documents that cover all aspects of working with prisoners, from planning how teaching will look like, to evaluation. Teaching is much easier when you have material of such quality”
“BATPE should become mandatory in order to achieve motivation for learning, which is generally weaker in prisons. Also, teachers were given the working guidelines to achieve successful results”
“The development of the andragogical competences of teachers working with prisoners is an absolutely neglected (absolutely unjustified and undeserved) area in the program of preparing these teachers for work. So BATPE should become mandatory”
3. In your view, to what extent working with prisoners with respect for the “BATPE curriculum” and “BATPE manual” can contribute indirectly (1 - not at all; 2 - may do little; 3 - moderately; 4 - may greatly ; 5 - absolutely can):
- To the development of motivation of prisoners for further learning and education
① ② ③ ④ ⑤
- To the development of the competencies of prisoners needed for social reintegration after leaving the prison
① ② ③ ④ ⑤
- To the decrease of the recidivism rate
① ② ③ ④ ⑤
Respondents declared that application of BATPE curriculum and manual can absolutely contribute (5 respondents), greatly contribute (2 respondents) or moderately contribute (2 respondents) to the development of motivation of prisoners for further learning and education.
Also, in respondents view application of BATPE curriculum and manual can absolutely contribute (3 respondents), greatly contribute (4 respondents), moderately contribute (1 respondent) or have little contribution (1 respondent) to the development of the competencies of prisoners needed for social reintegration after leaving the prison.
Finally, in respondents view application of BATPE curriculum and manual can absolutely contribute (2 respondents), greatly contribute (2 respondents), moderately contribute (3 respondent) or have little contribution (2 respondent) to the decrease of the recidivism rate.
Obtained results may be explained by the fact that BATPE is dedicated primary to prison educators and their improvement. One of the most important results of BATPE application should be the raise of ability of prison educators to motivate prisoners to learn – it seems that the direct influence of BATPE application is most visible in the sphere of motivating prisoners. In other spheres such as social reintegration and decreasing recidivism rate the influence of BATPE application is not that obvious, it is more indirect, so the responses indicate a bit lower capacities of BATPE application from our respondents’ perspective.
4. Can working with prisoners in accordance with the “BATPE curriculum” and “BATPE manual” indirectly contribute to improving the quality of work and life of prison staff and prisoners? Why?
All nine respondents were affirmative in context of this question. Some of them expressed their opinion on why working with prisoners in accordance with the “BATPE curriculum” and “BATPE manual” can indirectly contribute to improving the quality of work and life of prison staff and prisoners. These opinions are following:
“Because BATPE can contribute to better communication and understanding among prison educators and prisoners, changing attitudes and humanizing living conditions in an penitentiary institution”
“I think that the mutual trust that builds between teachers and prisoners during realization of educational activities (thanks to the respect of the "BATPE curriculum" and the "BATPE manual"), can apply to the relationship prisoners have with one another, as well as the prisoners' attitude towards prison staff”
“I think that BATPE curriculum and manual contribute to the development of team spirit among prison staff and good cooperation in work. Also, through education, the socialization of prisoners is achieved”
“I think one of the specifics of the teaching job in this area (working with prisoners) is that in a different (not smaller or bigger, just different) way, it also affects the quality of their lives - every opportunity to empower themselves through educational support in that to do their job successfully safely to contribute indirectly (and directly) to the improvement of their quality of life. I consider the BATPE curriculum and manual a tool for improving this quality”
5. Express your views on whether the “BATPE Curriculum” and the “BATPE Manual” can help raise awareness at the national level of interested structures about the importance, opportunities and need for continuing professional development of teachers working with adult prisoners.
Seven respondents expressed opinion that BATPE curriculum and manual can help raise awareness at the national level of interested structures about the importance, opportunities and need for continuing professional development of teachers working with adult prisoners (5 respondents are severely confident and 2 respondents are moderately confident in this position). Their comments were:
“BATPE can help raise the awareness of anyone who is interested and who reads them, or at least flips through them because they are clear and comprehensive”
“It is of great importance for the state to reduce, first and foremost, the number of people in the country with incomplete elementary school, and to ensure that prisoners are better socialized after serving time in prison”
“Certainly state-level structures aim to reduce the recidivism rate and this can be achieved through continuous professional development of teachers to work with adult prisoners”
“BATPE curriculum and manual, thanks to the very applicable way of addressing the very complex "principles" of adult educational work in such a specific situation as educational work with adult prisoners, make anyone who encounters the BATPE curriculum and program aware of how demanding, specific and significant this educational work is”
Two respondents were pessimistic in context of this question. They expressed the opinion that BATPE curriculum and manual cannot help in raising awareness at the national level of interested structures about the importance, opportunities and need for continuing professional development of teachers working with adult prisoners. One comment illustrates this opinion:
“The attitude that education can change convicts is changing slowly, unfortunately. The profession and science should be more persistent in this endeavor”
6. Would you be interested in participating in training where the "BATPE Curriculum" and the "BATPE Manual" are applied?
All respondents answered affirmative. One respondent made a comment which can be observed as a suggestion for improving BATPE curriculum and manual (however, it seems pretty achievable to incorporate this suggestion in the current design of the BATPE training):
“I would be interested in proposing that more attention be given to training on the specificities of the prison environment in which prisoners should be educated and the importance of establishing better communication with the outside world, especially with the family”
7. Would you apply the "BATPE Curriculum" and the "BATPE Manual" in your educational work? Why?
Eight respondents were affirmative while answering this question. One respondent gave negative answer and the explanation for that was the fact that this respondent is not engaged directly in the realization of educational activities for prisoners. Some of the comments made by those who answered affirmative (when asked “why?”) were:
“Because BATPE curriculum and manual are high quality, professionally and scientifically substantiated and certain parts are applicable in different educational situations when working with adults, not only in prison”
“BATPE curriculum and manual provide excellent guidance on how to best prepare yourself for the job of a prison teacher, where conditions are specific. And good preparation is a prerequisite for the quality of teaching”
“Because both, the BATPE manual and the BATPE curriculum guide the teacher in how to successfully teach in prison and achieve certain educational and functional goals”
“There are many reasons and ways that I would apply the BATPE curriculum and manual in my educational work: in addition to viewing the BATPE curriculum and manual (for the time being) as tools for improving my own andragogical teaching competences, I would directly implement the BATPE curriculum and manual with different groups of prisoners. I also note the very important suggestion that the BATPE curriculum and manual have already led me to design some more educational workshops with prisoners”
8. What are the main contributions of the BATPE Curriculum and the BATPE Manual concerning your work?
Since answering this question was not obligatory three responses were obtained. These are following:
“It is always interesting for me to get acquainted with the possibilities of motivation for adult learning and I can apply the exercises described in detail in school work and everything else is significant at least as a reminder”
“The main contribution is in the raise of my ability to motivate prisoners for active participation in the teaching process”
“I understand the characteristics of educational work with prisoners much better - the BATPE curriculum and manual are focused on those aspects of that work that are rarely addressed and analyzed although we often think of those as we are teachers. The BATPE curriculum and manual provide me with answers to many questions that have arisen in these reflections and contribute to the development of new ideas on how to make educational work with prisoners even more successful”