lunes, 25 de mayo de 2009

FSM: Educación en cárceles

World Social Forum

The Seminar “Education as a Human Right: School in Prisons” put forward the challenges in Latin America

Francisco Scarfó, Argentinean specialist in education in prison, participated in this activity supported by CLADE

February 06, 2009

Within the framework of the World Social Forum 2009, the Seminar “Education as a Human Right: School in Prisons” took place on January 30-31. It was organized by Ação Educativa, Alfabetização Solidária, Instituto Paulo Freire, Ilanud, Associação dos Educadores dos Espaços Privadores de Liberdade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Associação dos Defensores Públicos do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, with the support of CLADE and the German Adult Education Association (dvv).

The activity aimed at bringing together activists and researchers involved in the issue of education in prison, fostering the debate and the creation of a civil society group for information production, monitoring and the search of alternatives to overcome the violations to education rights in the prison system.

“We still have time to change”

The situation of Latin America was addressed by Francisco Scarfó, Argentinean professor and specialist in education in prison, member of the Group of Studies on Education in Prison (Grupo de Estudios sobre Educación en Cárceles - GESEC) which works to “promote the right to education of individuals deprived of their freedom within the human rights framework as well as a real possibility to provide them with quality education”.

Scarfó spoke in the panel “Education in Prison: Global Context”, coordinated by Mariangela Graciano. Also panelists were Marie- Noëlle Rodrigues (Ciep), who shared the RedLECE experiences; Jeremias Matondo, representative of Alfalit organization –Angola-; and Denise Carrera (Special Rapporteur for the Human Right to Education of the Plataforma DhESCA -Brazilian Platform of Human, Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights).

After reviewing the current context of prisons in Latin America, Scarfó pointed out that education in prison reduces the situation of vulnerability of individuals deprived of their freedom; it works as a tool for crime prevention and serves to lower recidivism rates. It also represents a social opportunity - to develop valuable educational trajectories, human rights and a life project – and, above all, a “key right”.

Afterwards, he mentioned some principles on which education in prison should be based, among them, the principle of equality. “This opportunity of receiving public education proposes that its quality should not be inferior or different from the quality of the official education. By receiving public education the prisoner participates in the education system and, therefore, is an incipient participant in the construction of social ties, citizenship, culture”, he declared.

Scarfó also stressed on the need to promote formal education institutions (public schools or education centers); education should not just be delivered through temporary education programmes. In his opinion, “education trajectories should be considered as the development of a life project, both inside and outside prison”.

At the end of his speech he shared the words of a person deprived of his freedom, who had access to education in a prison in La Plata and died in 2004, victim of HIV. What did he think about education in prison? “I think it is ideal for us; it allows us to grow as persons and make the most of the very limited space for education and learning in this place. When we were kids we did not know how to benefit from education, but all is not lost. We still have time to change, to grow as persons and change the bad attitudes that brought us here. Everything is inside of you; I think it’s wonderful.”

The participation of Fracisco Scarfó was articulated by CLADE with the support of the German Adult Education Association.

The logic of “punishment”

Denise Carrera did a presentation on the mission “Education in the Prison System” carried out by Plataforma DhESCA (Platform of Human, Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights) in the Brazilian states of Pernambuco, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul and Pará; its final report will be submitted to the National Congress in a public hearing in March 2009. Furthermore, the conclusions of the mission will be included in the Special Report 2009 on “Education in the Prison Systems around the World”, elaborated by the UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Education, Vernor Muñoz.

The Rapporteur presented the initial conclusions of the research, pointing out that “in spite of significant initiatives and experiences in some states, state education policies - with goals and allocated funds, within specific periods – are still missing in the prison system.”

In her presentation, Carrera mentioned that less than a third of the population deprived of freedom has access to the human right to education in prison. “The hegemony of the logic of “punishment” in the prison system restricts and curtails the development of sound, coherent and long-term education strategies”, she said. “Guaranteeing the right to education – articulated with the human right to work – does not solve the problems of the prison model; however, it plays a fundamental role to change the prevailing logic.”

CLADE participation in this event represents a significant first step to get involved in the issue of education in imprisonment contexts, deemed a priority within the Y&AE framework by its General Assembly in 2008.

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