Math in prison

The main goal of the project was to organize educational classes in mathematics for a group of prisoners from the Płock prison, which would be the part of their social rehabilitation process. Importantly, the target group/beneficiaries of the Math in Prison project is a group of prisoners whose mathematical education skills are very low and who have never had an opportunity to take part in a similar project before due to the fact that they are prisoners serving prison sentences in a special unit intended for people with non-psychotic mental disorders.

The priorities that guided us were, most of all, the desire to create additional educational opportunities for people who do not have these opportunities, as well as creating educational materials that could later be used in any way by educators dealing with similar target groups. All project activities are, more or less directly, aimed at supporting socially excluded people.

 

When it comes to identifying other target groups of the project (apart from the prisoners already mentioned above), these are:

 

1.

Educators working with prisoners in the Polish educational system – several of them took part in a tailor-made training how to create accessible materials for teaching and learning basic mathematics.

2.

Teachers and volunteers who will implement the above-mentioned materials, that is, they will use them in practice with the group of previously mentioned prisoners from the special unit.

3.

Interested math teachers who will be able to use ready-made materials for teaching mathematics. This applies primarily to teachers who work with prisoners on a daily basis, but also to other educators for whom the challenge is to find educational materials of appropriate quality.

What matters to improve numerate behaviour

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The project partners were two institutions – „Busola” Socially Excluded Education Association from Poland and the Faculty of Applied Sciences of the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) – Stichting Hogeschool Utrecht (SHU). The Dutch partner is a key player in the development of mathematics education for adults in Europe. During the international meeting, SHU transferred its experience to a less successful partner from Poland, which resulted in the preparation of an interesting educational publication. This publication consists of 15 thematic units and a competency test, which should be taken before the start of the course to determine what level the students are at and after the end of the whole cycle to determine whether the students have or have not acquired new skills. All teaching units refer, in a more or less indirect or direct way, to the ability to use mathematical knowledge in everyday practice. These materials relate to real life examples around us. The whole course consists of short videos and presentations to be used during classes. The materials have been prepared in such a way that they can be used to provide knowledge to those in need, not necessarily by qualified math teachers. Moreover, materials can also be used as self-learning course.

In short, the benefits we achieved by implementing the project are as follows:

For direct beneficiaries (prisoners):

1. Promoting the possibility of cooperation within a project that breaks down cultural and social barriers related to the lack of basic educational skills.

2. Giving participants the opportunity to learn more about the partner countries from where the project participants come.

3. Expanding the scope of informal education for students, possibly leading to acquiring knowledge and skills and increasing their competences in the field of math education.

4. Increasing self-confidence and self-esteem among participants.

5. Motivating students for further education and social awareness.

6. Educating low-skilled project participants.

For educators:

1. Opportunities to share experience related to the project topic with fellow colleagues.

2. An opportunity to gain inspiration due to the opportunity to observe and understand completely different practices and a different approach to the same problem.

3. Active promotion of a positive approach to work among all participants who work together to achieve a previously chosen goal.

4. Educators will have opportunities to share best practices learned during project activities.

For the society:

1. Possibility of reducing the recidivism rate among people deprived of liberty who were participating in the project.

2. The final „product” (math teaching/learning materials) will be available to any interested party long after the project has been completed.