Project in collaboration with Belgium “Report on the Permanent State of Education in Prisons around the World”

A request was made to the Belgian government for Marc De Maeyer, a partner of the UNESCO Chair in Applied Research for Education in Prison, to do the project “Report on the Permanent State of Education in Prisons around the World.” The objective of this project is to reinforce the permanent information mechanism for national policies, initiatives, programs, and pedagogical tools of education in prisons in more than 50 countries. The project is described as follows: in the sector of education, education in prison is set apart, most likely in one of the more hidden sectors of “education for special needs.”

All the governments in the world are confronted with the same reality about their prisons: they are overcrowded, inhabited by mostly poor people with low, practically non-existent, formal education. Immigrants sometimes represent a strong minority, and human and material resources are generally lacking. Public opinion is little informed about this reality and rarely thinks about it, even though more than 10 million people are involved. The way things are, there are nearly no exchanges of good practices, though the scarcity of resources could be partly remedied if there were more exchanges taking place.

Heightening public awareness of the educational needs (in a broad sense) of those who, one day, will leave prison, is a social and political necessity. Preparing inmates for when they leave prison requires the help of numerous professional players who must have access to basic information concerning the good and poor practices in the sector.

At the international level, a reference tool on the legislations, practices, pedagogical tools, debates, and research on formal and non-formal education in prison must be created.