Dr Geraldine Cleere, lecturer in Law and Criminal Justice at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has been appointed to the Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Chair of Applied Research for Education in Prisons. Dr Cleere is the first Irish member to take a seat on the Scientific Committee, which acts in an advisory capacity to the Chair of Applied Research for Education in Prisons and consists of distinguished researchers in the field of adult and prison education from around the world.

Dr Cleere, a Kilkenny native, who lectures primarily in Prison Law, Criminal Law, Human Rights and Custodial Care, is also the programme leader for the BA (Hons) in Criminal Justice Studies at WIT. Her primary research focus is the prison, with her research on the role of prison education in desistance from crime ultimately leading to this prestigious position.

The UNESCO Chair of Applied Research for Education in Prisons is an outcome of the Dakar Framework, which was adopted in Senegal in 2000. This framework upholds the principle of ‘Education for All’, affirming that education is a universal right for all humans and is an essential tool for social development. “As an educator I understand the value and power of education in enhancing a person’s life. We often mistakenly refer to education in the purely academic sense, yet the power of education spans far beyond career outcomes. Our capacity to thrive in both the personal and social sense, to exercise our citizenship and create legitimate opportunities in life is inextricably connected to a broad academic, moral, social, cultural and spiritual education,” explains Dr Cleere.

The Chair of Applied Research for Education in Prisons works with UNESCO to help provide and develop adult education in prisons. The mission of the Chair is to promote, stimulate and encourage applied research on various aspects of education in the prison setting and foster more in-depth consideration and concrete action in relation to education in prisons at an international level.

“I am privileged to be able to play a part in ensuring that this significant human right, the right to education, is promoted and upheld, especially for those in prisons who are often the most educationally disadvantaged members of our communities,” said Dr Cleere.

It is Dr Cleere’s hope that her work will contribute to the mission of the Chair and will raise awareness around the importance of the provision of education to some of the most marginalised in our societies, particular those in prisons, based on factual and well-researched data.