Summary: The Reykjavik conference on work and education for prisoners in the Nordic countries.

From 12 – 14th of September 2016 a Nordic conference was held at the Grand-Hotel in Reykjavik Iceland on behalf of NVL (Nordisk nätverk för vuxnas lärande).

The main topic was:  Work and education – cooperation and innovation. Education and vocational training of prisoners in the Nordic countries.  The conference was organized by Nordisk Nettverk for Opplæring i Fengsel and recieved a grant from the funds of the Nordic Council of Ministers, NORDPLUS Horizontal, which paid about half of the total cost in the form of a subsidy applied for by the organizers.  Such conferences are periodically held every other year as a co-nordic project.  The participants came from all the Nordic countries, some came also from Baltic countries, in total 142 registred participants plus 10 from Iceland, partly attending daily events.  In total there were over 150 participants in the conference.   The program focused on four main issues:  Keynote speakers, workshops, a prison visit and dialog amongst participants.  The conference-lingo was scandinavian, but all main speaches were interpreted to english.  Two of the work-shops were also in English.

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There were six keynote speakers with up to one hour time each.  Some of them held their lectures twice. The topics were as follows:  Olga Lísa Garðarsdóttir (Ice.); Cooperation, school - workplace.  Jan Korsvold (Nor.); How the working operation and school in a prison cooperate, with good results for everyone.  Benny Christensen (Den.); OPC: Official/Private Cooperation on upgrading.  Hilde Linde Larsen og Anne Dahl (Nor.); New strategy for the work implementation in the prisons in Norway.  Dorte Lundorff (Den.); Can offers of work and education by the Prison Service be further qualified.  Michael Lund Thomsen, Arne Brekke and others (Nor.); Innovasjonscamp 2016, Bastöy prison Norway.

There were seven work-shops which also were held twice in order to make it possible for participants to attend more than one.  The titles were as follows: Gardening, Industry. Application process: Nordplus/Erasmus. Preparatory education for vocational training. Educationalising prisoners work activities.  Better Out – on education and activities in danish prisons.  And last but not least: the Project Restaurant Honest food in Halden prison.

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The large group was divided into two groups for the prison visit.  On Tuesday 13th the first group went to the new prison in Reykjavik, Holmsheidi Prison, and on Wednesday 14th the second group went.  The prison staff guided each group through the buildings and grounds for approx. 2 hours. 

At the end the whole group of participants was divided into 15 small groups for dialog about the conference issues.  The task for each group was to work with prepared questions which dominated the agenda of the conference and prepare written answers to selected questions, such as: What motivates you to collaborate?  How do you organize collaboration between work and education on a daily basis?  What, in your opinion, made the collaboration a success?  What effects can one actually see from your collaboration, among the inmates? Which good ideas do you take with you from the conference, how do you intend to put those ideas to practical use when you get home?

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As the conference was drawing to an end Mr. Frank Krohn, coordinator for NORDPLUS, held a short introduction on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers / Nordplus, - and the possibilities for istitutions in the nordic countries to apply for project-grants.  After some discussions the conference was declared closed and the assembly went to dinner in Reykjavik centrum.  The feedback from the participants to the organizers was that they were pleased with the arrangement as a whole, both the program, the venue and the procedure.  That those with keynote speaches and those responsible for work-shops did a good job and in the broad spectrum this relatively large conference on work and education for prisoners in the Nordic countries was a success.

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