Education

Key elements

Detainees in prison have a right to education and this is crucial for their rehabilitation and reinsertion into society upon release. For children of compulsory school age and detainees lacking basic literacy skills, education should be compulsory. All detainees should have access to a programme of educational activities, tailored to their individual needs and aimed at their full personal development. This includes formal and informal education, as well as an accessible and well-stocked library. Prison education should be integrated within the outside education system and involve community actors as fully as possible.

Analysis

The right to education in prison

All detainees should have access to a programme of educational activities aimed at their full personal development. This is part of respecting the inviolable right to education, which is not forfeited upon detention. It is also crucial for ensuring that the period of detention is used to improve the situation of the individual and assist their resettlement in society.

Ensuring this right means states should also provide educational programmes for non-sentenced prisoners, as recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education. This is particularly important given the often long periods of pre-trial detention globally, but is often not ensured in practice.
 

What is understood by education?

Education in prisons should be understood in the broad sense to include formal and informal programmes aimed at the development of the whole person, taking account of the detainees’ social, economic and cultural background. This includes:

  • Compulsory education at the primary and secondary levels. This should be obligatory for children of compulsory school age and also available for adults who have not completed compulsory schooling.
  • Literacy and numeracy education. This should be compulsory for detainees who lack basic literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Higher (tertiary) education: the optional stage of education usually provided by universities, colleges and institutes and that usually results in the award of academic degrees, certificates or diplomas.
  • Vocational training, which prepares people for a specific job functions, trades, crafts and careers at various levels.

Prison education should also be understood to encompass broader activities contributing to the development of the person, including cultural, creative and sports activities.

Education for children

Children in prison have particular and often significant educational needs. In many contexts, they have lower than average education and often lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. Children are also more likely to respond positively to, and benefit from, education during their period of detention.

All children deprived of their liberty who are subject to compulsory education should have access to, and participate in such education. This should as far as possible be provided outside detention in community schools and in any case by qualified teachers through programmes integrated with the public education system.

Children and young people above compulsory school age who wish to continue their education should be encouraged and provided with the opportunity to do so. Children and young people who are illiterate or have cognitive or learning difficulties should have the right to special education. Education or training should not cause the continuation of their detention.

Benefits of prison education

Prison education has a number of recognised benefits for individual detainees, prisons and society, including:

  • Providing a minimum level of compulsory schooling.
  • Increasing detainees’ self-worth, morale and providing skills needed in society.
  • Enabling individuals to increase their chances of finding gainful employment upon release.
  • Reducing tensions and disruptive behaviour and breaking down barriers between different groups in prison.
  • Preventing crime, improving public safety and economic benefits to society as reoffending is reduced.

Ensuring access to education

To ensure the right to education, education for people in prison should be guaranteed and entrenched in law. States should have a coherent policy on prison education which is available, accessible, adaptable and of the highest possible standard. Adequate public funds, teaching staff and equipment should be allocated to provide this. Compulsory education should be provided free of charge, along with as many additional education programmes as possible to avoid barriers to access based on resources.

Factors affecting the quality of prison education

The nature, provision, quality and participation rates in prison education programmes vary greatly between countries and institutions. Despite its recognised benefits, in many contexts, prison education is not prioritised in public policy and inadequate human and financial resources are allocated to it. Educational programmes are thus commonly limited or non-existent; and curricula are often too basic or irrelevant, with outdated teaching methods and equipment limiting the usefulness of programmes. The quality of teaching may be poor because of the working conditions of staff including lower salaries, lack of incentives and the fact that teachers may not be appointed by the Ministry of Education (with the associated professional standards and benefits).

Barriers to accessing education in prison

Where educational programmes are provided, detainees often face further barriers accessing these in the prison context, including:

  • Education is seen as a privilege rather than a right, which can be awarded on discretion or withdrawn for disciplinary purposes.
  • Systems of corruption or informal detainee hierarchies control access to educational programmes, based on payment or other discriminatory criteria.
  • Security measures and other operational “imperatives” such as frequent transfers and lockdowns interfere with learning.
  • Discriminatory access to education based on the place of detention, sentence length, and/or security category as well as discrimination against persons in situations of vulnerability.
  • Prohibitory costs of education impeding access for detainees who do not have sufficient personal resources.

Integration within the education system

Education in prisons should be integrated within the outside education system (using curricula, materials and professionals from the community). This is important for normalising educational programmes and increasing the possibility for detainees to continue their education after release. As far as possible, children should receive compulsory schooling and other educational programmes (e.g. vocational training) in the community. This opportunity should also be available for adult detainees where possible. Educational qualifications gained by detainees in prison should not indicate that they were detained.

It is recommended that the government authorities responsible for public education (e.g. Ministry of Education) have responsibility for education in prisons, in coordination with the prison administration (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education). In many contexts, the prison administration is given primary responsibility for this. It is also not uncommon that provision is subcontracted to community and voluntary sectors. 

What is important is that education is provided according to a coherent government policy, with coordination among relevant actors to ensure the highest possible standards. Each prison should have an education policy in line with government policy and outlining the values and objectives of education and how this is to be provided.
 

Individual education plan

Detainee populations have diverse educational needs. Detainees often lack basic reading and writing skills and face dispositional barriers to education linked to their experiences prior to detention, including low self-esteem, previous educational failure and the stigma of illiteracy.

Education should be tailored to the needs of each detainee as part of a balanced programme of constructive activities in prison. Each detainee should have an individual sentence plan, including educational goals and a programme of activities to achieve these. This should be monitored, evaluated and updated from entry to release.
 

Motivation and incentives

Prison authorities should actively encourage participation in educational programmes. Education should have no less a status than work in prisons and there should be no disincentives for attending educational classes. The prison authorities can provide incentives for participation in education, such as taking into account time in education for parole or conditional release. Schedules should be arranged to ensure detainees do not miss out on educational programmes due to other activities.

Cross-sectoral involvement

The participation of diverse actors, such as detainees, prison officers, the outside community, non-governmental organizations and families, in the design, delivery and evaluation of (non-compulsory) educational programmes has a positive influence on their quality and impact. Standards provide that the outside community should be as involved as fully as possible in the provision of prison education. For example, community organisations such as cultural and volunteer groups can be invited to provide educational activities in prison.

Detainees themselves are often an untapped resource for peer learning. For example, more educated detainees can be employed by the prison authorities to assist other detainees with developing basic reading and writing or other skills, under appropriate supervision (although this should never be a substitute for compulsory education by qualified teachers).
 

Library

Every prison should maintain well-funded and accessible libraries, stocked with an adequate and appropriate range of resources and technology available for all categories of detainees. Links with outside libraries and support from civil society can help to ensure an adequate stock of materials, including for prisoners who do not speak the main language of the institution.

Even when libraries are well stocked, detainees can face a number of barriers accessing materials. Library opening times should be arranged to ensure that all detainees can have reasonable access given the schedule of other activities. All efforts should be made to ensure that detainees do not face discrimination in accessing libraries (e.g. through corruption or informal detainee hierarchies).

Detainees may also lack the skills to navigate the library and find materials of interest. Qualified library staff who can explain and assist detainees to access materials can increase the educational value of prison libraries. In some prisons lists of books are circulated for detainees to sign up to order a specific book. Such a system can increase access to reading materials but should not replace regular access to the library itself.
 

Children living with mothers in prison

Children living with their mothers who are serving a sentence in prison have the same right to education as children living in the community. In most countries, there is a legal mandate for the provision of preschool education for young children living in prison, but in practice there is often little or no implementation owing to a shortage of economic and human resources (lack of trained teachers and transport, no coordination between responsible bodies and limited awareness of children’s rights.

Girls should have equal access to educational programmes as boys in detention, taking into account their particular educational needs. If they are of the age of compulsory education, schooling should be obligatory and undertaken as far as possible in the community. Curricula and educational practices in places of detention should be gender sensitive, in order to fulfil the right to education of girls. In practice, there is often gender discrimination in respect to quality and breadth of education for girls detained in prisons. This can be due to a lack of funding, materials and teachers, and the fact that less educational opportunities are offered because there are less girls than boys in detention.  It is common that programmes offered to girls are of poorer quality and vocational training is related to gender stereotypes (such as sewing, kitchen duties, beauty and handicrafts).  Additional engagement and encouragement may be needed to ensure that girls can access and fully benefit from educational programmes in detention. 

Women detainees should have equal access to educational programmes as men, taking into account their particular educational needs. Curricula and educational practices in places of detention should be gender sensitive, in order to fulfil the right to education of female detainees. In practice, there is often gender discrimination in respect to quality and breadth of education for female detainees in prisons. This can be due to a lack of funding, materials and teachers, and the fact that less educational opportunities are offered because there are less women in detention. Prison education is therefore often of poorer quality and less accessible to women detainees, especially higher education. It is common that vocational training programmes offered to women are related to gender stereotypes (such as sewing, kitchen duties, beauty and handicrafts).  Additional engagement and encouragement may be needed to ensure that women detainees can access and fully benefit from educational programmes. 

Persons with physical and learning disabilities should have the opportunity to participate in accessible and relevant education in prison, adapted to their specific needs. This may require specialised teaching staff and programmes and/or adapted environments to remove physical barriers to access. In reality, prison systems are often not aware that they are detaining sometimes significant numbers of persons with learning disabilities. Stigma, discrimination and other barriers in accessing education mean that they are effectively excluded from the benefits of these programmes.

Foreign nationals and persons from minority groups have the same right to education in prisons as other detainees. In practice, foreign nationals are sometimes excluded from educational programmes (especially persons awaiting deportation). Language barriers can also mean unequal access to education. It may thus be necessary to develop special programmes for foreign nationals or members of minority groups who do not speak or understand the language used in educational programmes.

Legal standards (14)

Questions for monitors (20)

Which authority/organisation(s) is/are responsible for providing prison education?

Is formal education in prisons integrated within the public education system (using curricula, materials and teachers from this system)?

Does the prison provide a programme of formal and informal education aimed at the full development of the person, including: primary and secondary education, literacy and numeracy skills, higher education and vocational training?

Does the prison ensure that all children of compulsory school age receive schooling integrated in the public education system, taught by qualified teachers and as far as possible undertaken in the community?

Is education for detainees who lack basic literacy skills provided on a compulsory basis?

Is compulsory education provided free of charge, along with as many additional education programmes as possible to avoid barriers to access based on resources

Does the prison actively encourage participation in education programmes? Does it provide incentives? How are schedules arranged – are efforts made to ensure that educational programmes do not clash with other activities?

Are there factors which impede access to education in practice (for example security considerations, operational imperatives, corruption, informal detainee hierarchies)?

What is the quality of teaching? What are the conditions for teachers (salary, working conditions, incentives? Are they appointed by the ministry responsible for public education?

Can detainees receive nationally recognised diplomas/certificates on completion of courses?

Is the outside community (for example cultural and volunteer groups) involved in the provision of non-compulsory prison education?

Does the prison administration make use of resources within the detainee population to provide peer learning (for example on basic literacy and numeracy)?

Does the prison maintain a well-funded and accessible library, stocked with an adequate and appropriate range of resources and technology available for all categories of detainees?

Are books and journals available in minority and foreign languages?

Are there indications of discrimination in accessing education, for example on the basis of sentence length, security category, against persons in situations of vulnerability?

Do women have access to the same breadth and quality of education as men in detention? Are there any indications of discrimination (poorer quality, gender stereotypes, and barriers to access) for women?

Do children living with their mothers in prison have the same access to education as children outside the prison (e.g. preschool education)?

Do girls have access to the same breadth and quality of education as boys in detention? Are there any indications of discrimination (poorer quality, gender stereotypes, and barriers to access) for girls?

Do persons with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in accessible and relevant education in prison, adapted to their specific needs? Do persons with disabilities suffer barriers (e.g. discrimination, stigma, physical barriers) accessing education programmes? Is the prison able to identify and meet the distinctive educational needs of persons with learning disabilities?

Do foreign national detainees and those from minority groups have the same access to education as other detainees (if necessary in other languages)?

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Education

Key elements

Detainees in prison have a right to education and this is crucial for their rehabilitation and reinsertion into society upon release. For children of compulsory school age and detainees lacking basic literacy skills, education should be compulsory. All detainees should have access to a programme of educational activities, tailored to their individual needs and aimed at their full personal development. This includes formal and informal education, as well as an accessible and well-stocked library. Prison education should be integrated within the outside education system and involve community actors as fully as possible.

Analysis Print

The right to education in prison

All detainees should have access to a programme of educational activities aimed at their full personal development. This is part of respecting the inviolable right to education, which is not forfeited upon detention. It is also crucial for ensuring that the period of detention is used to improve the situation of the individual and assist their resettlement in society.

Ensuring this right means states should also provide educational programmes for non-sentenced prisoners, as recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education. This is particularly important given the often long periods of pre-trial detention globally, but is often not ensured in practice.
 

What is understood by education?

Education in prisons should be understood in the broad sense to include formal and informal programmes aimed at the development of the whole person, taking account of the detainees’ social, economic and cultural background. This includes:

  • Compulsory education at the primary and secondary levels. This should be obligatory for children of compulsory school age and also available for adults who have not completed compulsory schooling.
  • Literacy and numeracy education. This should be compulsory for detainees who lack basic literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Higher (tertiary) education: the optional stage of education usually provided by universities, colleges and institutes and that usually results in the award of academic degrees, certificates or diplomas.
  • Vocational training, which prepares people for a specific job functions, trades, crafts and careers at various levels.

Prison education should also be understood to encompass broader activities contributing to the development of the person, including cultural, creative and sports activities.

Education for children

Children in prison have particular and often significant educational needs. In many contexts, they have lower than average education and often lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. Children are also more likely to respond positively to, and benefit from, education during their period of detention.

All children deprived of their liberty who are subject to compulsory education should have access to, and participate in such education. This should as far as possible be provided outside detention in community schools and in any case by qualified teachers through programmes integrated with the public education system.

Children and young people above compulsory school age who wish to continue their education should be encouraged and provided with the opportunity to do so. Children and young people who are illiterate or have cognitive or learning difficulties should have the right to special education. Education or training should not cause the continuation of their detention.

Benefits of prison education

Prison education has a number of recognised benefits for individual detainees, prisons and society, including:

  • Providing a minimum level of compulsory schooling.
  • Increasing detainees’ self-worth, morale and providing skills needed in society.
  • Enabling individuals to increase their chances of finding gainful employment upon release.
  • Reducing tensions and disruptive behaviour and breaking down barriers between different groups in prison.
  • Preventing crime, improving public safety and economic benefits to society as reoffending is reduced.

Ensuring access to education

To ensure the right to education, education for people in prison should be guaranteed and entrenched in law. States should have a coherent policy on prison education which is available, accessible, adaptable and of the highest possible standard. Adequate public funds, teaching staff and equipment should be allocated to provide this. Compulsory education should be provided free of charge, along with as many additional education programmes as possible to avoid barriers to access based on resources.

Factors affecting the quality of prison education

The nature, provision, quality and participation rates in prison education programmes vary greatly between countries and institutions. Despite its recognised benefits, in many contexts, prison education is not prioritised in public policy and inadequate human and financial resources are allocated to it. Educational programmes are thus commonly limited or non-existent; and curricula are often too basic or irrelevant, with outdated teaching methods and equipment limiting the usefulness of programmes. The quality of teaching may be poor because of the working conditions of staff including lower salaries, lack of incentives and the fact that teachers may not be appointed by the Ministry of Education (with the associated professional standards and benefits).

Barriers to accessing education in prison

Where educational programmes are provided, detainees often face further barriers accessing these in the prison context, including:

  • Education is seen as a privilege rather than a right, which can be awarded on discretion or withdrawn for disciplinary purposes.
  • Systems of corruption or informal detainee hierarchies control access to educational programmes, based on payment or other discriminatory criteria.
  • Security measures and other operational “imperatives” such as frequent transfers and lockdowns interfere with learning.
  • Discriminatory access to education based on the place of detention, sentence length, and/or security category as well as discrimination against persons in situations of vulnerability.
  • Prohibitory costs of education impeding access for detainees who do not have sufficient personal resources.

Integration within the education system

Education in prisons should be integrated within the outside education system (using curricula, materials and professionals from the community). This is important for normalising educational programmes and increasing the possibility for detainees to continue their education after release. As far as possible, children should receive compulsory schooling and other educational programmes (e.g. vocational training) in the community. This opportunity should also be available for adult detainees where possible. Educational qualifications gained by detainees in prison should not indicate that they were detained.

It is recommended that the government authorities responsible for public education (e.g. Ministry of Education) have responsibility for education in prisons, in coordination with the prison administration (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education). In many contexts, the prison administration is given primary responsibility for this. It is also not uncommon that provision is subcontracted to community and voluntary sectors. 

What is important is that education is provided according to a coherent government policy, with coordination among relevant actors to ensure the highest possible standards. Each prison should have an education policy in line with government policy and outlining the values and objectives of education and how this is to be provided.
 

Individual education plan

Detainee populations have diverse educational needs. Detainees often lack basic reading and writing skills and face dispositional barriers to education linked to their experiences prior to detention, including low self-esteem, previous educational failure and the stigma of illiteracy.

Education should be tailored to the needs of each detainee as part of a balanced programme of constructive activities in prison. Each detainee should have an individual sentence plan, including educational goals and a programme of activities to achieve these. This should be monitored, evaluated and updated from entry to release.
 

Motivation and incentives

Prison authorities should actively encourage participation in educational programmes. Education should have no less a status than work in prisons and there should be no disincentives for attending educational classes. The prison authorities can provide incentives for participation in education, such as taking into account time in education for parole or conditional release. Schedules should be arranged to ensure detainees do not miss out on educational programmes due to other activities.

Cross-sectoral involvement

The participation of diverse actors, such as detainees, prison officers, the outside community, non-governmental organizations and families, in the design, delivery and evaluation of (non-compulsory) educational programmes has a positive influence on their quality and impact. Standards provide that the outside community should be as involved as fully as possible in the provision of prison education. For example, community organisations such as cultural and volunteer groups can be invited to provide educational activities in prison.

Detainees themselves are often an untapped resource for peer learning. For example, more educated detainees can be employed by the prison authorities to assist other detainees with developing basic reading and writing or other skills, under appropriate supervision (although this should never be a substitute for compulsory education by qualified teachers).
 

Library

Every prison should maintain well-funded and accessible libraries, stocked with an adequate and appropriate range of resources and technology available for all categories of detainees. Links with outside libraries and support from civil society can help to ensure an adequate stock of materials, including for prisoners who do not speak the main language of the institution.

Even when libraries are well stocked, detainees can face a number of barriers accessing materials. Library opening times should be arranged to ensure that all detainees can have reasonable access given the schedule of other activities. All efforts should be made to ensure that detainees do not face discrimination in accessing libraries (e.g. through corruption or informal detainee hierarchies).

Detainees may also lack the skills to navigate the library and find materials of interest. Qualified library staff who can explain and assist detainees to access materials can increase the educational value of prison libraries. In some prisons lists of books are circulated for detainees to sign up to order a specific book. Such a system can increase access to reading materials but should not replace regular access to the library itself.
 

Children living with mothers in prison

Children living with their mothers who are serving a sentence in prison have the same right to education as children living in the community. In most countries, there is a legal mandate for the provision of preschool education for young children living in prison, but in practice there is often little or no implementation owing to a shortage of economic and human resources (lack of trained teachers and transport, no coordination between responsible bodies and limited awareness of children’s rights.

Girls should have equal access to educational programmes as boys in detention, taking into account their particular educational needs. If they are of the age of compulsory education, schooling should be obligatory and undertaken as far as possible in the community. Curricula and educational practices in places of detention should be gender sensitive, in order to fulfil the right to education of girls. In practice, there is often gender discrimination in respect to quality and breadth of education for girls detained in prisons. This can be due to a lack of funding, materials and teachers, and the fact that less educational opportunities are offered because there are less girls than boys in detention.  It is common that programmes offered to girls are of poorer quality and vocational training is related to gender stereotypes (such as sewing, kitchen duties, beauty and handicrafts).  Additional engagement and encouragement may be needed to ensure that girls can access and fully benefit from educational programmes in detention. 

Women detainees should have equal access to educational programmes as men, taking into account their particular educational needs. Curricula and educational practices in places of detention should be gender sensitive, in order to fulfil the right to education of female detainees. In practice, there is often gender discrimination in respect to quality and breadth of education for female detainees in prisons. This can be due to a lack of funding, materials and teachers, and the fact that less educational opportunities are offered because there are less women in detention. Prison education is therefore often of poorer quality and less accessible to women detainees, especially higher education. It is common that vocational training programmes offered to women are related to gender stereotypes (such as sewing, kitchen duties, beauty and handicrafts).  Additional engagement and encouragement may be needed to ensure that women detainees can access and fully benefit from educational programmes. 

Persons with physical and learning disabilities should have the opportunity to participate in accessible and relevant education in prison, adapted to their specific needs. This may require specialised teaching staff and programmes and/or adapted environments to remove physical barriers to access. In reality, prison systems are often not aware that they are detaining sometimes significant numbers of persons with learning disabilities. Stigma, discrimination and other barriers in accessing education mean that they are effectively excluded from the benefits of these programmes.

Foreign nationals and persons from minority groups have the same right to education in prisons as other detainees. In practice, foreign nationals are sometimes excluded from educational programmes (especially persons awaiting deportation). Language barriers can also mean unequal access to education. It may thus be necessary to develop special programmes for foreign nationals or members of minority groups who do not speak or understand the language used in educational programmes.

Legal standards (14) Print

International Convention on the Rights of Migrants and their families

Article 17.7

Migrant workers and members of their families who are subjected to any form of detention or imprisonment in accordance with the law in force in the State of employment or in the State of transit shall enjoy the same rights as nationals of those States who are in the same situation.

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)

Rule 4

1. The purposes of a sentence of imprisonment or similar measures deprivative of a person’s liberty are primarily to protect society against crime and to reduce recidivism. Those purposes can be achieved only if the period of imprisonment is used to ensure, so far as possible, the reintegration of such persons into society upon release so that they can lead a law-abiding and self-supporting life.

2. To this end, prison administrations and other competent authorities should offer education, vocational training and work, as well as other forms of assistance that are appropriate and available, including those of a remedial, moral, spiritual, social and health- and sports-based nature. All such programmes, activities and services should be delivered in line with the individual treatment needs of prisoners.

Rule 64

Every prison shall have a library for the use of all categories of prisoners, adequately stocked with both recreational and instructional books, and prisoners shall be encouraged to make full use of it.

Rule 104

1. Provision shall be made for the further education of all prisoners capable of profiting thereby, including religious instruction in the countries where this is possible. The education of illiterate prisoners and of young prisoners shall be compulsory and special attention shall be paid to it by the prison administration.

2. So far as practicable, the education of prisoners shall be integrated with the educational system of the country so that after their release they may continue their education without difficulty.

Rule 104

1. Provision shall be made for the further education of all prisoners capable of profiting thereby, including religious instruction in the countries where this is possible. The education of illiterate prisoners and of young prisoners shall be compulsory and special attention shall be paid to it by the prison administration.

2. So far as practicable, the education of prisoners shall be integrated with the educational system of the country so that after their release they may continue their education without difficulty.

Rule 105

Recreational and cultural activities shall be provided in all prisons for the benefit of the mental and physical health of prisoners.

Body of principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment

Principle 28

A detained or imprisoned person shall have the right to obtain within the limits of available resources, if from public sources, reasonable quantities of educational, cultural and informational material, subject to reasonable conditions to ensure security and good order in the place of detention or imprisonment.

Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners

Principe 6

All prisoners shall have the right to take part in cultural activities and education aimed at the full development of the human personality.

UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules)

Rule 37

Juvenile female prisoners shall have equal access to education and vocational training that are available to juvenile male prisoners.

United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty

Rule 18

(b)  Juveniles should be provided, where possible, with opportunities to pursue work, with remuneration, and continue education or training, but should not be required to do so.  Work, education or training should not cause the continuation of the detention.

Rule 38

Every juvenile of compulsory school age has the right to education suited to his or her needs and abilities and designed to prepare him or her for return to society.  Such education should be provided outside the detention facility in community schools wherever possible and, in any case, by qualified teachers through programmes integrated with the education system of the country so that, after release, juveniles may continue their education without difficulty.  Special attention should be given by the administration of the detention facilities to the education of juveniles of foreign origin or with particular cultural or ethnic needs. Juveniles who are illiterate or have cognitive or learning difficulties should have the right to special education.

Rule 39

Juveniles above compulsory school age who wish to continue their education should be permitted and encouraged to do so, and every effort should be made to provide them with access to appropriate educational programmes.

Rule 40

Diplomas or educational certificates awarded to juveniles while in detention should not indicate in any way that the juvenile has been institutionalized.

Rule 41

Every detention facility should provide access to a library that is adequately stocked with both instructional and recreational books and periodicals suitable for the juveniles, who should be encouraged and enabled to make full use of it.

Detention guidelines: guidelines on the applicable criteria and standards relating to the detention of asylum-seekers and alternatives to detention

Guideline 8. 48

If detained, asylum-seekers are entitled to the following minimum conditions of detention:

(xiii) Asylum-seekers should have access to education and/or vocational training, as appropriate to the length of their stay. Children, regardless of their status or length of stay, have a right to access at least primary education. Preferably children would be education off-site in local schools.

Guideline 9.2 .56

Children who are detained benefit from the same minimum procedural guarantees as adults, but these should be tailored to their particular needs (see Guideline 9). An independent and qualified guardian as well as a legal adviser should be appointed for unaccompanied or separated children.

During detention, children have a right to education which should optimally take place outside the detention premises in order to facilitate the continuation of their education upon release. Provision should be made for their recreation and play, including with other children, which is essential to a child’s mental development and will alleviate stress and trauma (see also Guideline 8).

European Prison Rules

Rule 28.1

Every prison shall seek to provide all prisoners with access to educational programmes which are as comprehensive as possible and which meet their individual needs while taking into account their aspirations.

Rule 28.2

Priority shall be given to prisoners with literacy and numeracy needs and those who lack basic or vocational education.

Rule 28.3

Particular attention shall be paid to the education of young prisoners and those with special needs.

Rule 28.4

Education shall have no less a status than work within the prison regime and prisoners shall not be disadvantaged financially or otherwise by taking part in education.

Rule 28.5

Every institution shall have a library for the use of all prisoners, adequately stocked with a wide range of both recreational and educational resources, books and other media.

Rule 28.6

Wherever possible, the prison library should be organised in co-operation with community library services.

Rule 28.7

As far as practicable, the education of prisoners shall:
a. be integrated with the educational and vocational training system of the country so that after their release they may continue their education and vocational training without difficulty; and
b. take place under the auspices of external educational institutions.

Rule 35.2

Every prisoner who is a child and is subject to compulsory education shall have access to such education.

Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas

Principle XIII - Education and cultural activities

Persons deprived of liberty shall have the right to education, which shall be accessible to all, without any discrimination, with due consideration to cultural diversity and special needs.

Primary or basic education shall be free for persons deprived of liberty, particularly for children, and  for adults who have not received or completed the whole cycle of primary instruction.

Member States of the Organization of American States shall promote, progressively and to the maximum of their available resources, secondary, technical, vocational, and higher education in places of deprivation of liberty, and shall make them accessible to all, on the basis of individual capacity and skills.

Member States shall ensure that educational services provided in places of deprivation of liberty operate in close coordination and integration with the public education system; and shall promote cooperation with society through the participation of civil associations, non-governmental organizations, and private educational institutions.

Places of deprivation of liberty shall have libraries with sufficient books, newspapers, and educational magazines, with the appropriate equipment and technology, according to available resources.

Persons deprived of liberty shall have the right to take part in cultural, sporting, and social activities, and shall have opportunities for healthy and constructive recreation. Member States shall encourage the participation of the family, the community, and non-governmental organizations in these activities, in order to promote the reform, social readaptation, and rehabilitation of persons deprived of liberty.

Extract from the 2nd General Report [CPT/Inf (92) 3] - Imprisonment

Paragraphe 47

A satisfactory programme of activities (work, education, sport, etc.) is of crucial importance for the well-being of prisoners. This holds true for all establishments, whether for sentenced prisoners or those awaiting trial. The CPT has observed that activities in many remand prisons are extremely limited. The organisation of regime activities in such establishments - which have a fairly rapid turnover of inmates - is not a straightforward matter. Clearly, there can be no question of individualised treatment programmes of the sort which might be aspired to in an establishment for sentenced prisoners. However, prisoners cannot simply be left to languish for weeks, possibly months, locked up in their cells, and this regardless of how good material conditions might be within the cells. The CPT considers that one should aim at ensuring that prisoners in remand establishments are able to spend a reasonable part of the day (8 hours or more) outside their cells, engaged in purposeful activity of a varied nature. Of course, regimes in establishments for sentenced prisoners should be even more favourable.

Paragraphe 52

Naturally, the CPT is also attentive to the particular problems that might be encountered by certain specific categories of prisoners, for example: women, juveniles and foreigners.

Extract from the 19th General Report [CPT/Inf (2009) 27]

Paragraphe 99

Steps should be taken to ensure a regular presence of, and individual contact with, a social worker and a psychologist in establishments holding children in detention. Mixed-gender staffing is another safeguard against ill-treatment; the presence of both male and female staff can have a beneficial effect in terms of the custodial ethos and foster a degree of normality in a place of detention. Children deprived of their liberty should also be offered a range of constructive activities (with particular emphasis on enabling a child to continue his or her education).

Extract from the 9th General Report [CPT/Inf (99) 12]

Paragraphe 31

Although a lack of purposeful activity is detrimental for any prisoner, it is especially harmful for juveniles, who have a particular need for physical activity and intellectual stimulation. Juveniles deprived of their liberty should be offered a full programme of education, sport, vocational training, recreation and other purposeful activities. Physical education should constitute an important part of that programme.

It is particularly important that girls and young women deprived of their liberty should enjoy access to such activities on an equal footing with their male counterparts. All too often, the CPT has encountered female juveniles being offered activities which have been stereotyped as "appropriate" for them (such as sewing or handicrafts), whilst male juveniles are offered training of a far more vocational nature. In this respect, the CPT wishes to express its approval of the principle set forth in Rule 26.4 of the Beijing Rules, to the effect that every effort must be made to ensure that female juveniles deprived of their liberty "by no means receive less care, protection, assistance, treatment and training than young male offenders. Their fair treatment shall be ensured."

Extract from the 10th General Report [CPT/Inf (2000) 13]

Paragraphe 25

Women deprived of their liberty should enjoy access to meaningful activities (work, training, education, sport etc.) on an equal footing with their male counterparts. As the Committee mentioned in its last General Report, CPT delegations all too often encounter women inmates being offered activities which have been deemed "appropriate" for them (such as sewing or handicrafts), whilst male prisoners are offered training of a far more vocational nature.

In the view of the CPT, such a discriminatory approach can only serve to reinforce outmoded stereotypes of the social role of women. Moreover, depending upon the circumstances, denying women equal access to regime activities could be qualified as degrading treatment.

24th General Report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture

Paragraph 109

Upon admission, an individualised plan should be drawn up for every juvenile, specifying the objectives, the time-frame and the means through which the objectives should be attained, in order to best utilise the time that the juvenile concerned spends in the detention centre, to develop skills and competences that assist him/her to reintegrate into society.

Paragraph 110

Education and vocational training ofered to juveniles in detention should be similar to that in the community, provided by professional teachers/trainers, and juveniles in detention should obtain the same types of diplomas or certifcates (after successfully completing their education) as juveniles who attend educational establishments in the community. Measures should be taken to avoid that school-leaving certifcates bear any indication of the juveniles institutional afliation. Given the particularly difcult backgrounds of many juveniles, eforts need to be made to encourage and motivate them to attend educational classes/vocational training and to participate in workshops where they can learn skills to assist them upon their release. In a number of countries, the CPT has observed the practice of training juveniles in using computers (including the Internet) and/or of allowing selected detained juveniles to attend schools in the outside community. Such practices should be encouraged.

Questions for monitors (20) Print

Which authority/organisation(s) is/are responsible for providing prison education?

Is formal education in prisons integrated within the public education system (using curricula, materials and teachers from this system)?

Does the prison provide a programme of formal and informal education aimed at the full development of the person, including: primary and secondary education, literacy and numeracy skills, higher education and vocational training?

Does the prison ensure that all children of compulsory school age receive schooling integrated in the public education system, taught by qualified teachers and as far as possible undertaken in the community?

Is education for detainees who lack basic literacy skills provided on a compulsory basis?

Is compulsory education provided free of charge, along with as many additional education programmes as possible to avoid barriers to access based on resources

Does the prison actively encourage participation in education programmes? Does it provide incentives? How are schedules arranged – are efforts made to ensure that educational programmes do not clash with other activities?

Are there factors which impede access to education in practice (for example security considerations, operational imperatives, corruption, informal detainee hierarchies)?

What is the quality of teaching? What are the conditions for teachers (salary, working conditions, incentives? Are they appointed by the ministry responsible for public education?

Can detainees receive nationally recognised diplomas/certificates on completion of courses?

Is the outside community (for example cultural and volunteer groups) involved in the provision of non-compulsory prison education?

Does the prison administration make use of resources within the detainee population to provide peer learning (for example on basic literacy and numeracy)?

Does the prison maintain a well-funded and accessible library, stocked with an adequate and appropriate range of resources and technology available for all categories of detainees?

Are books and journals available in minority and foreign languages?

Are there indications of discrimination in accessing education, for example on the basis of sentence length, security category, against persons in situations of vulnerability?

Do women have access to the same breadth and quality of education as men in detention? Are there any indications of discrimination (poorer quality, gender stereotypes, and barriers to access) for women?

Do children living with their mothers in prison have the same access to education as children outside the prison (e.g. preschool education)?

Do girls have access to the same breadth and quality of education as boys in detention? Are there any indications of discrimination (poorer quality, gender stereotypes, and barriers to access) for girls?

Do persons with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in accessible and relevant education in prison, adapted to their specific needs? Do persons with disabilities suffer barriers (e.g. discrimination, stigma, physical barriers) accessing education programmes? Is the prison able to identify and meet the distinctive educational needs of persons with learning disabilities?

Do foreign national detainees and those from minority groups have the same access to education as other detainees (if necessary in other languages)?