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Avlonas Prison School for Young Offenders wins EPEA Prize.

The Gymnasium and Lyseum at Avlonas Prison for Young Offenders has won the 2018 International Day of Education in Prison (IDEP) Contest.

The Prize was won by a group of teachers and students of the Gymnasium and Lyceum that operates within the Avlonas Prison for Young Offenders, for which Sofia Samara (an English teacher and also the Treasurer of the EPEA Hellas) is the representative.

EPEA is the European Prison Education Association.

Included in the programme’s activities was an example of a former inmate of that same prison.

While incarcerated, he held on to Education and managed to rebuild his life. The lived experience of this person (currently studying at the University), was here wisely approached with the purpose of celebrating IDEP, elucidating everyone on the real meaning of the actors engaged in the mission of Prison Education.

Thus, and among all extraordinary applications received, the example of a real life experience, portrayed in this IDEP activity, entitled “Let’s celebrate Prison Education!”, had great influence on the Steering Committee’s final decision this year.

The Juvenile Prison of Avlonas is located 45 m North of Greek capital Athens. It houses approximately 400 males aged 15-21.

Congratulations to Avlonas Prison School Director, Petros Damianos, and the young offenders who make use of the education opportunities offered to them inside a prison institution.

Sophia Samaras has written about the education project in Avlonas:

“On Monday 15th October 2018, the teachers and students of the Gymnasium and Lyceum that operates within the Avlonas Prison for Young Offenders decided to set aside the curriculum and celebrate, instead, the International Day of Prison Education.

Quite shocking was the realisation that the majority of our students believed that being able to attend school while incarcerated was a privilege and not their right…

Thus, we began the day with a powerpoint presentation of the Recommendation R.89(12) of the Council of Europe, using the EPEA site where we found the Recommendation in every language necessary to accommodate our multilingual school community.

Our students participated with enthusiasm in the discussion of issues and problems regarding prison education. They, also, understood that their social, economic and cultural backgrounds do not hinder their education, but rather enhance their opportunities for self-improvement. Ways to ameliorate prison education were proposed, the need for additional cultural programmes was stressed, and means to overcome the obstacles they face regarding schooling were offered. Following the discussion, we had the pleasure of watching a shadow play performance written and directed by previous students of our school entitled ‘Karagiozis imprisoned’.

The highlight of this day was the creation of an art project; students and teachers hung a sheet of paper on one of the walls and ‘portrayed’ their own thoughts on prison education. Nationalities, languages and cultures merged to create a work of art.  Everybody tried their best to create an image of what the school means to them…For most of our students, the school is a taste of freedom, a glimpse of hope, a way to escape the misery of their incarcerated life.” via EPEA

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