Several award-winning ICDL programs have been in correctional facilities
Several of our national operators have conducted successful projects in prisons and juvenile detention centres.
The education facility of the Josefstadt prison in Vienna, Austria along with the Austrian Computer Society provides ECDL training to juvenile delinquents between 14 and 18 years old and young adults between 18 and 21. The ultimate objective of the facility is to prepare the inmates for life after prison and “vocational reintegration”. It is believed that ECDL improves the chances for detainees to find a job on the labour market soon after their release.
The detainees are so young that staff hold real hope for their rehabilitation, as head of the education facility Richard Lampl explains: “We have to keep in mind that we are dealing with individual human beings here. With people who are young and have made mistakes. They deserve to get a second chance”.
Besides the certification itself, the discipline of the training schedule along with the guidance of a teacher has positive effects.
This is clear to the teachers, says Facility Instructor Walter Kienböck: “We are not only teachers here, of course. We must be psychologists, care workers and mentors at the same time for the juvenile delinquents. Many of our pupils not only have to learn how to make and handle documents and databases, they also have to learn how to behave when interacting with colleagues and superiors”.
There are success stories; the young offenders who “give us the strength to go on and keep up the effort” says Lampl.
17-year-old Christian was detained for arson and car theft after becoming homeless. Before this, he had been studying an apprenticeship to become a floor layer. While awaiting his court hearing in prison, he participated in the ECDL (7-module) course. Immediately after, he completed all four ECDL Advanced certificates. Upon release, he completed his apprenticeship as one of the best in his class.
Another detainee, a 20-year-old in for drug offences, had never heard of ECDL. He was familiar with Facebook and computer games but had never used any applications like Word or Excel. At the education facility, he first passed the ECDL (7-module) course and then went on to take three ECDL Advanced certificates but was released before he could complete the fourth and final Expert module. He called the prison, desperate to finish the module and earn the ECDL Expert certificate because he was sure it would help him find a job. They told him he could study at home and he passed at a public test centre later earning the ECDL Expert certificate.
Other projects in correctional facilities in France, South Africa and Pennsylvania have all reported similar success.
For those who want to improve their lives after making a mistake, computer education and skills can be a tool and even a lifeline. As an ECDL candidate and prisoner in France said simply; “it helps to hold on to something”.
Josefstadt Prison in Vienna
The ECDL Training room in the education centre of Josefstadt Prison