In Kenya and Uganda, up to 80% of those in prison have never seen a lawyer, estimates African Prison Project (APP) founder Alexander McLean. A new Al Jazeera documentary looks at the APP’s innovative response: helping prisoners in East Africa teach each other law so that they can help mount their own defence and represent each other in court. Over 2,000 inmates have been released or had their sentences reduced as a result.
Ugandan Susan Kigula was APP’s first female law student. She was sentenced to death in 2002 and separated from her then one-year-old child. Thanks to her law studies, she was released in January 2016 after playing a role in getting her own death sentence overturned. She recently graduated with a Diploma in Law from the University of London, who are partnering with APP.
McLean founded the project in his second year at university. It’s now working with 30 prisons in Africa, including maximum security facilities like Naivasha in Kenya. At Naivasha, most of the inmates were illiterate but now 50% are in formal education through this initiative. Once the prisoners master literacy and numeracy, APP encourages them to study law. Prisoners who show academic and leadership potential are encouraged to become teachers and even principals.
APP is one of six ground-breaking initiatives around the world featured in Rebel Education, a new Al Jazeera documentary series that explores learning models from around the world which are challenging the dominant ideas of education.
Rebel Education: Teaching Empowerment screens on Al Jazeera English on 2 February 2017 at 1630 GMT / 1930 EAT and will be available to embed in full from YouTube after it airs.
An earlier episode in Rebel Education features Educate, an experience-based education model in Kampala that encourages entrepreneurship, leadership, critical thinking and problem solving. Rebel Education: School for Life screens on Al Jazeera English on 26 January 2017 at 1630 GMT / 1930 EAT and will also be available to embed in full from YouTube after it airs.
Other episodes follow:
• Global Teacher Prize finalist and Best Education in Latin America 2015 winner, Elisa Guerra, whose ambitious early years curriculum has three-year-old Mexican children learning to read and play the violin. Watch and embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAL_CFNoXJs
• The London Nautical School, which gives students the power to choose for themselves their curriculum and teachers. Watch and embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RdMDY5rYnY
• TUMO, a free, creative after-school activities centre in Armenia, teaching ‘maker’ skills such as 3D printing, web design, film and animation (Screening 19 January 2017 at 1630 GMT / 1930 EAT)
• The Inspiring Science Project in Thailand, which encourages students to become science investigators and solve real local problems (Screening 9 February 2017 at 1630 GMT / 1930 EAT)
Rebel Education is currently screening on Thursdays at 1630 GMT / 1930 EAT.
For more information, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/rebel-education/.