DIY schooling: Greek teacher creates TV classes for inmates

AVLONA: Establishing a tv channel from scratch is not the obvious or best factor for a math teacher to do — particularly with out prior technical information and for use inside a jail.

However that’s precisely the duty Petros Damianos, director of the varsity at Greece’s Avlona Particular Youth Detention Middle, took on so his college students might entry the teachings that coronavirus lockdowns lower them off from.

Greek faculties have shut, reopened, and closed once more over the previous yr as authorities sought to curtail the unfold of the virus. Like their friends throughout a lot of the globe, the nation’s college students tailored to digital classes.

However the on-line world is not accessible to all.

The Avlona detention middle, a former navy jail, holds almost 300 younger males aged 18-21, and typically as much as 25. The varsity Damianos based there in 2000 now teaches main grades via to varsity, following the nationwide curriculum and awarding commencement certificates equal to any Greek college.

Whereas attendance is voluntary, the jail college has grown in reputation and noticed report enrollment in September, when as much as 96% of inmates signed up. However with web gadgets banned of their cells, the jail’s college students had no solution to proceed studying when the lockdowns cancelled classroom classes.

“Our lecturers could not attain the youngsters like they attain all different youngsters in Greece,” stated Damianos, a mild-mannered man in his 60s. “This was a giant downside, a really large downside that appeared virtually insurmountable.”

The truth that inmates are stacked 4 or 5 to a cell with much less area per particular person than the jail school rooms did not matter. Their college needed to shut together with the remainder throughout lockdowns in March and once more in November.

When he heard in early December that Greece’s faculties would not reopen earlier than Christmas, “I felt … despair,” Damianos stated. Making issues worse, the lockdown ended visits and furlough go away, so inmates “skilled a double jail,” he stated.

Whereas entry to schooling is necessary for all college students, it’s maybe much more essential for Avlona’s, a few of whom have been convicted and others who’re awaiting trial. Many by no means graduated and even accomplished main grades, and schooling is essentially the most concrete software they’ll use to show their lives round.

“Primarily, our college students are those that … earlier than they obtained to jail, the schooling system expelled them,” Damianos stated. “These youngsters are youngsters we did not catch in time. To whom we as a society, once we ought to have, did not give what we should always have given.”

Determined for an answer, Damianos had an concept: he might attain his college students via the televisions of their cells if he might determine find out how to create a devoted TV channel to broadcast their classes.

Technician mates instructed Damianos it was potential with the mandatory gear. The subsequent hurdle was acquiring the gear with outlets additionally closed in the course of the nationwide lockdown. Then the varsity’s workers needed to discover ways to use it.

The varsity’s music teacher, Nikos Karadosidis, took on the function of technician, utilizing expertise from occasional live performance tech work and steering gleaned from YouTube tutorials.

“I in a short time realized — and that is the magic of it, too — that this entire factor is basically DIY,” Karadosidis stated. “Do it your self, with no matter supplies you could have, with no matter instruments you could have, to attempt to do the very best you may.” Via donations, volunteers and on-line orders, the workers cobbled collectively what they wanted. A essential piece of apparatus — a modulator to transmit the TV sign — bumped into supply delays, so a retailer lent them an older one. 200 meters (toes) of cable arrived, and inmates helped run it from the varsity to the jail’s central aerial.

One jail classroom was transformed right into a rudimentary studio, with an affordable hand-held video digicam taped to a tripod. Multicolored Christmas lights served as a makeshift recording gentle, warning these exterior to maintain quiet throughout recording periods.

On Jan. 8, a couple of month after Damianos had the concept, the channel was prepared. They named it Prospathodas TV, Greek for “Making an attempt TV.” Via phrase of mouth, they obtained inmates to re-tune their televisions to seize the brand new channel.

The pilot programme was a half-hour math class. Now the channel operates 24 hours a day, working six hours’ value of pre-recorded classes on a loop on weekdays, and eight hours of content material on a loop on weekends.

The lecturers report new classes every day: from math and handicrafts to economics and music. Karadosidis edits into the evening and broadcasts the classes the subsequent day, since dwell broadcasts are nonetheless past their technical capabilities.

For the scholars, going to class offered extra than simply schooling. Past the sequence of barred steel doorways, previous the courtyard with soccer balls caught in coils of razor wire, college was a quick respite from the harshness of jail life.

“Faculty is one thing completely different. It’s kind of extra human than the remainder of the jail,” stated M.S., a 21-year-old who earned his highschool diploma in Avlona. “We come right here and we joke round with our lecturers. They handle us…. It’s kind of like a household.”

Below jail rules, inmates can solely be recognized by their initials.

M.S. has about one other two years to go after serving 31 months for theft, theft and beatings. He is aware of his prison report has dashed his dream of educating literature, however he made it into college and is now learning pictures and visible arts.

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