Project IOWA: Motivation of inmates to study – experiences and new methods


On April 23-27, , learning, teaching and training activities of Erasmus + 2 Key Action (KA204) Adult Education Strategic Partnerships project „InnOvative WAys for Motivating prisoners for learning“ (IOWA) (Project No 2017-1-LT01-KA204) -035225) took place in the city of Granada, Spain. The aim of this project is to share experience, to find ways and methods to involve in the learning process as many arrested / convicted people as possible, to educate their general competences, to form a value system that facilitates resocialization after leaving the prison. The product of the project is a methodological guide for teachers working in prisons prepared by partners from four countries (Lithuania, Belgium, Italy and Norway).

The task of teachers working in prisons is to help inmates to understand their needs, interests, abilities, to assess their existing life experiences as the foundation of new knowledge and skills to acquire, to develop a self-confident person seeking changes, to return from social exclusion and to live full-fledged life. Teachers working in prisons face a lot of challenges, because they need not only the knowledge of their subject but also special psychological readiness is required as well as knowledge of peculiarities of work with prisoners and knowledge of andragogy, so sharing the experience with foreign partners (teachers, psychologists, prison lawyers, social workers) is a very useful experience that allows to find new ways of working in this socially sensitive environment.

During the training activities, partners visited the Albolote prison near Granada. This is a prison located in a 3-hectare area. Participants of the project had an opportunity to communicate with the prison authorities, employees, teachers, psychologists and convicts, who introduced the conditions and rules for the execution of prisoners, and presented learning opportunities which were provided in this prison. They also showed study areas as well as introduced information on what kind of non-formal education programs are offered to inmates. In this detention center a lot of attention is paid to the development of socio-cultural competencies. Prison teachers presented practical methods of learning motivation, shared their work experience demonstrated some of the methods which help to involve inmates in the process of learning. Project partners together with prisoners participated in event devoted to M. de Servantes’ “Don Quixote”.

Another type of prison, such as CIS prison in Granada was also visited by the participants of the project. This imprisonment institution is like an intermediate stop between imprisonment and freedom. Prisoners are allowed to go home at weekends, they can work outside the prison on weekdays and also study at prison. This prison offers a large number of non-formal educational programs (for example, driving lessons). However, there are also very strict rules, and those who do not follow them are sent to a prison with a more severe regime. When communicating with convicts, it became clear that they greatly appreciate the possibility of serving a sentence in this type of prison, and enjoying the opportunity to study there. A teacher working in Granada CIS prison demonstrated teaching method „Didactic-cultural walks“. The participants of the project visited historically important city objects of Granada together with inmates. This is an excellent example of teaching in a non-traditional environment. Prisoners had the opportunity to expand their cultural and linguistic competences, communicate with other inmates and teachers in an informal environment, and it helped them to form social skills and motivated them to study.

Moreover, partners from the IOWA project presented their experiences of working with inmates during the conference at the University of Granada, thus they had a unique opportunity to compare aspects of their colleagues‘ work, to introduce ways of strengthening the external and internal motivation of inmates in prisons in Belgium, Spain, Lithuania and Norway,

The knowledge gained during this international training meeting as well as competences which were improved will enable project participants to organize  educational process in this socially sensitive area more effectively and purposefully, to strengthen the motivation of inmates to study, to develop the need for lifelong learning as a necessity for a modern person living in a constantly improving environment.

Zulfija Guzienė, Project Coordinator,
Veronika Bekerienė, Member of the project group,
Rasa Dumčiūtė, Member of the project Group

P h o t o: Metodas „Didaktinis-kultūrinis pasivaikščiojimas“: projekto dalyviai kartu su įkalintaisiais lanko istoriškai svarbius Granados miesto objektus (nuotrauka Øyvind Lunde).