Turkey Twinning Project
The Estonian-Finnish cooperation project began in September 2019. The aim was to develop the skills and knowledge of the prison officers of Turkish detention institutions to meet the international standards. The College of Justice was included in the given Twinning project thanks to earlier successful cooperation with Finnish partner organisations.
In order to give an overview of the complexity and scale of the project, here is some comparative data. Namely, there are three prisons in Estonia with almost 2200 inmates and about 1100 employees. In Turkey, however, there are 319 prisons accommodating almost 285,000 inmates and employing 67,000 people. There are altogether 5 training centres for educating prison officers providing 134 different trainings in a year. Quite a challenge, isn’t it?
The challenge ended this year in March with the completion of the last activities of our project. So, a highly exciting period in the life of all the participants came to an end. Let’s listen to our experts and see what they valued most about the experience.
Ülle, a senior lecturer of the Department of Public Order of the Police and Border Guard College, said that she feels very proud that a large country with a population of 80 million wished the support and advice of tiny Estonia in developing their curricula. She could see and experience a completely different but also very dignified culture. People, in her opinion, were all friendly and kind. She couldn’t help feeling, though, that they could have done something even more and better. The face-to-face meetings allowed to do the “work” that could not be done with online meetings. In Ülle’s experience, terrible “machine translation” can do a lot of harm. She also finds that teaching others allows us to get new knowledge about curriculum development and this is exactly what she is planning to use also in her own work. The training materials and guidebook compiled by her can be very well used also in other similar international projects that she would be happy to participate in.
Looking back at the Turkish project, the leading specialist of degree studies of the College of Justice Kadri is primarily reminded of the idea that learning takes place through experience on many different levels. At first, she felt a little insecure but it was time to put her knowledge into practice. The only thing that could have prepared her better for the project is the self-same project! According to Kadri, you can never be 100% ready for such a project. Some variables will always be different and everything will be and can be clear only at the end of the process. Thanks to the project, she acquired a lot of new knowledge herself. As most of the employees of the College of Justice were involved in the project, she also got a better overview of her colleagues’ superpowers. She saw their various skills and knowledge that do not necessarily become evident in their daily work. This has only spurred new ideas for the future, Kadri says. All in all, she would like to say that such international projects are definitely needed in order to develop yourself and understand the true value of your colleagues.
Liisa, a lecturer of the Department of Imprisonment, says the project was an excellent opportunity to enhance international cooperation. Participation in the project required a lot of effort as the aim was to provide as many applicable results as possible. Cooperation with Finnish and Turkish colleagues widened her horizons and view of the world. In Liisa’s opinion, the Turkish colleagues were highly enthusiastic and made a lot of effort themselves. This also motivated to contribute more to our role in the project. Together with her colleagues, Liisa compiled a manual Training of Trainers describing the entire study process starting from andragogy to assessing learning outcomes. The whole process also gave her new ideas and she found several new methods to try out with her students. She believes that such projects are useful not only to those who are trained but also to those who conduct the trainings.
Educational technologist Alina liked the outside-the-box attitude and the process of finding new solutions. Participation in the project was highly exciting and also professionally very useful as she acquired a lot of new knowledge. She also came to understand the specific aspects of the training provided at the College of Justice. According to Alina, such projects outside your own organisation allow you to structure your thoughts and knowledge. She says that most of the people at the academy as well as in our society are digitally competent people oriented to independent development who make active use of digital technology in their daily life. She says this is our new reality, but the project also taught us that it is not so evident elsewhere. She wishes to highlight the importance of team synergy between all members of the project as they could find a good balance between the expectations, needs and the reality. According to Alina, the team supported and guided the experts whenever they needed it.
For Silvia, a senior lecturer of the Department of Imprisonment, it was the first time to participate in an international project as an expert. At first, it seemed that she would not cope with the forthcoming challenges as it all seemed so mysterious and insurmountable. But according to Silvia, she is a fighter and not a quitter, so she accepted all the challenges! At first it was quite difficult, but as the big picture gradually formed, everything fell into its place – so you just needed to roll up your sleeves and start working. Cooperation with colleagues gave her new energy and courage to continue and implement all the planned initiatives. As a result of the stressful, yet interesting work, she managed to achieve a lot! The best achievement, however, is the sparkle in your colleagues’ eyes! Looking back, it is clear that it was a unique opportunity to put her abilities to the test. It convinced her that you must believe in yourself as you do have all the necessary abilities!
In the course of the project, the director of the College of Justice Laura has learned numerous theories, models and regulations related to education on the European level, including the training of prison officers. Of course, she had seen and read them all before but she had never really needed to conceptualise them to such extent. She also reveals a secret – the real meaning of an expert. According to her, an expert is a person who at first has no knowledge of the topic but is willing to take in tons of information in a short period of time. And at the same speed, the expert is also capable of formulating it into a comprehensive text that is simple, reasonable and understandable. And of course in English. Perfectly simple! Actually, Laura was secretly developing also the Academy of Security Sciences. While Laura was supporting the development in Turkey, the edges and margins of the papers were filled with ideas for the future of the College of Justice. And as Laura says, she wants to make it clear to everybody once and for all: we have one of the best education systems for prison officers in Europe!
Having participated in the project as both the project manager and an expert, I can only applaud my colleagues’ ideas. The project enriched us all and the contribution made by the experts was indeed considerable. I’m glad we had the opportunity to take part in it. Any kind of international experience will give us more than we can possibly expect at the beginning. Everybody’s contribution has been of utmost importance and I’m glad to see that there is energy and will also for the future. Our experts’ professionalism, motivation and will to work were evident to everybody. Therefore, I value our people highly and truly appreciate their priceless contribution to the success of the project!
Ivo Kitsing, junior lecturer at the College of Justice of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences