Webinar: a prisoner's right to education

© HMP Wandsworth, London, United Kingdom.

Approximately 11 million people are currently incarcerated in penal institutions worldwide. While education is a fundamental human right, many of these penal institutions are overcrowded and at crisis point, unable to provide education according to international standards. In an effort to address this problem, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) will host a webinar on 21 January 2021 entitled ‘A prisoner’s right to education’ as part of UNESCO’s ‘#RightToEducation’ campaign and to mark the 60th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education.

Webinar speakers will present the challenges to overcoming discrimination against prisoners in the field of education, and provide examples of best practice with regard to measures designed to ensure that their right to education is upheld. They will address the different conventions on prison education that are already in place; stress the importance of access to education and training for people who are incarcerated; and highlight disparities in the field. Research findings from UIL’s ongoing, comprehensive literature review related to prisoners’ right to education will be discussed with webinar participants.

Enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and positioned at the heart of UNESCO’s mission, the right to education implies a right to lifelong learning. This includes providing prisoners with access to quality education from the first day of their incarceration through to and beyond the day of their release. Although experiences drawn from different countries can offer guidance on how to promote prison education, there is still a lack of systematically collected and analysed data on the effectiveness of educational practices in prisons. UIL has thus launched an initiative on prison education to improve current policies and practices, and to stimulate and promote professional exchange between policy-makers, researchers and practitioners in all regions of the world.


Date and time

21 January 2021, 14.30 to 16.00 (CET)


Download programme

Webinar recording


Education in Prison: Principles, Policies and Practice
Dr Cormac Behan, Lecturer in Criminology,  School of Languages, Law and Social Science, Technological University Dublin, Ireland

Education in prison: Experiences from Thailand
Mr Nathee Chisawang, Deputy Executive-Director,  Thailand Institute of Justice

The Norwegian educational prison system
Mr Kjetil Stavø Hovigø, County Governor of Vestland, Department of Education and Guardianship

Justice Defenders
Mr Matteo Cassini, Community Development Manager, Justice Defenders

Lifelong learning for all: A prisoner’s right to education
60-year anniversary of the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education

Ms Marcela Gutiérrez Quevedo, Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Human Rights, Violence, Public Policies and Governance,  Universidad Externado de Colombia (Colombia)

The UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education

The UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education highlights UNESCO Member States’ obligation to ensure free and compulsory education, promotes equality of educational opportunity, and prohibits any form of discrimination. However, despite the fact that six decades have passed since the Convention was adopted, the right to education and lifelong learning is not yet a reality for millions of people worldwide. In response, UNESCO launched a global campaign in 2020, ‘Say no
to discrimination in education’, designed to highlight the need both for continued advocacy for the right to education and to ratify the Convention.