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Abstract

The idea that education can imbue the learner with the skills, values and attitudes necessary for active citizenship has come to permeate mainstream educational discourse. This paper examines the relevance of that discourse for prison education and considers what it may have to offer the prison learner? It suggests that it has much to offer because 'citizenship' is itself a learning process that instils developmental and transformative change. Thus, prison educators should not only think of learning as a key dimension of citizenship but citizenship as a key dimension of learning. Accordingly, 'civic competency' should be seen to be just one more 'literacy' prisoners need to master in order to lessen their educational, social and political marginalisation. The paper concludes with the argument that civic competency can be taught best within the paradigm of transformative learning because that ideology and approach is focused less on enabling prisoners to know their place in society and more on enabling them re-conceptualise their place in society.

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