Urban games as a tool to strengthen literacy skills among prisoners

The Erasmus+ program offers Small Scale Partnership Projects. The so-called small-scale projects, Erasmus+ KA 210, are aimed at less experienced institutions that aim to expand access to the program and enable smaller entities that are usually difficult to reach in the sectors of school education, adult education, vocational education and training, youth and sports, participation in international activities for broadly understood education.

One of such projects was the project entitled „Urban games as a tool to strengthen literacy skills among prisoners”, in which three institutions were involved:

1. „Busola” Socially Excluded Education Association from Poland as the project coordinator.

2. AAPA Penitentiary Center in Tenerife as a partner. (Centro de educación de personas adultas Santa Cruz de Tenerife)

3. Antalya Closed Penitentiary as a partner (Antalya L Tipi Kapali Ceza Infaz Kurumu)

The main goal of our project was, as the name suggests, to strengthen prisoners’ reading and writing skills by creating urban games. The inmates participating in this project took advantage of a package of workshops in various fields, which allowed them to acquire a set of skills, competences and tools necessary to achieve the final common goal: creating several city games that will later serve local communities. Thanks to various workshops, prisoners were able to design urban games in such a way that, once completed, they could be used by a wider audience.

 

The workshops in which prisoners participated were:

– local history workshops,

– creative writing,

– calligraphy,

– creating rhymes and rapping skills,

– designing and creating city games,

– digital image processing,

– creating drawings and illustrations.

The priorities that motivate us focus on the inclusion of socially excluded and marginalized groups, promoting education among adults whose opportunities for education are reduced or limited. All planned activities were intended for adult prisoners, within which we conducted an informal educational process. Thanks to them, excluded people had access to a wider range of educational activities. Moreover, the final result of our activities (urban games) will be available to a wider audience, which means that we can expect civic engagement at a level that goes beyond prison education.

Urban games are available below in digital format so that anyone who wants to play them can download and use them for free. In this way, a wider audience will be able to learn in an entertaining way the stories, anecdotes and legends related to the cities participating in the project.
The project lasted a total of 20 months, from May 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023. We believe it was very successful. Beneficiaries (prisoners) who took part in educational workshops expanded their competences in the scope in which the workshops were organized. In most cases, the aim was to increase skills in the basics of 'literacy’. The opportunity to broaden horizons in other areas is also important, such as during workshops on local history.

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The project lasted a total of 20 months, from May 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023. We believe it was very successful. Beneficiaries (prisoners) who took part in educational workshops expanded their competences in the scope in which the workshops were organized. In most cases, the aim was to increase skills in the basics of 'literacy’. The opportunity to broaden horizons in other areas is also important, such as during workshops on local history.

The organizations participating in the project gained both in terms of strengthening their position as an educational institution and enriching their resources, knowledge and experience. Collaboration between international organizations has also created a platform for the exchange of best practices and innovations. The impact of the project at the institutional level was that the project activities constituted an additional educational offer for convicts, which should be perceived as expanding the possibilities of social rehabilitation activities in the involved prisons, and to which convicts do not have access on a daily basis. One of the project assumptions was to increase the competences of the participants (in various areas), which will ultimately increase their mental capabilities and, as a result, prevent them from returning to the criminal path (reducing the recidivism rate).

As for other effects, it can be concluded that the project had a very large, positive impact on the project organizers. As part of the project, we had the opportunity to exchange good practices between partner institutions (more precisely, teachers working with inmates) regarding the tools and methods used in each institution to strengthen reading and writing skills of inmates. New contacts (networking) were established, and good practices related to teaching convicts in penitentiary isolation were exchanged during physical meetings at each partner’s location. In the meantime, ideas were also exchanged that may result in future cooperation at European level on joint new projects (KA2 or KA1).
Overall, the project had a positive and lasting impact on all parties involved. These results are not only a testament to the success of the project itself, but also highlight the value of cooperation and commitment of all participants and partners.

 

Benefits of the project in bullet points:

Benefits for direct beneficiaries:

– promoting the possibility of cooperation between students from different European countries as part of a project that aims to break down social, cultural and reading barriers,

– promoting opportunities for all participants to learn more about partner countries,

– broadening the scope of non-formal education for learners, which can potentially lead to greater knowledge and skills

– improving competences and skillful use of them,

– building self-confidence and self-esteem among inmates,

– motivating students for (further) education and social awareness,

– providing better education for low-skilled people.

Benefits for educators:

– opportunity to share your experiences regarding design issues,

– strengthening your creativity due to the diversity of current project partners

– an opportunity to experience, see and understand different practices and a different approach to the same issues,

– actively promoting a positive work ethic with the active cooperation of all parties involved,

– sharing best practices.

Benefits for society:

– possibly lower recidivism rate among inmates who take an active part in the classes,

– the final results (urban games) will be available long after the project has been completed.