Networking driven by socially centered physical education and sports service as new socializing model for convicts


Dr.Hab., Associate Professor L.I. Kostyunina1
PhD A.N. Ilkin1
Postgraduate student Y.M. Postnov1
Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University named after I.N. Ulyanov, Ulyanovsk

Keywords: re-socializing, physical education and sports service, project activity, convicts, students, networking project.

Background. Formal statistical reports of the national penal and corrective system show the re-socializing process efficiency being on the fall as demonstrated by the relevant key progress criteria; and this is the reason why the convicts’ re-socializing issues are ranked high on the lists of priorities by both the penal and corrective system and the national society on the whole.

Objective of the study was to provide theoretical and practical grounds for the relevant institutional networking system based on the socially centered physical education and sport project activity viewed as an innovative re-socializing tool for convicts.

Methods and structure of the study. The education research was performed in the Penal and Corrective Service of the Ulyanovsk region and at Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University named after I.N. Ulyanov with contributions from the convicts, penal system personnel, volunteer students, academic athletes and faculty in the period of January 2016 through September 2017.

Study results and discussion. The convicts’ re-socializing service in the national penal system is rather specific with a special emphasis being made on the social education matters and with the education process design customized to the specific needs of the target groups. Imprisonment process with its isolation and deprivation of many rights and freedoms is often associated with serious personality transformations and revaluations of many habits and values – that may, if left uncontrolled, result in behavioural deviations, repeated offences and some other negative/ sociopathic post-detention effects. Our analysis of the available special literature on the subject shows that the best modern educational technologies applicable for the corrective purposes imply the relevant target social, psychological and educational impacts on the convicts with due emphasis on the humanitarian aspect of the process, services of the specially trained penal system personnel with support from the relevant educational establishments for success of the correction process [4-7]. We have analyzed the academic socio-cultural, research and educational resource mobilization potential for the problem solution by offering services of highly skilled physical education and social service specialists and psychologists, and with the innovative education models being applied for the correction service improvements at the penal institutions driven by the socially centered physical and sporting activity. Presently the networking models are mostly applied in the education sector and considered as a powerful innovative education tool to promote and distribute an innovative project experience and improve the resource mobilization efficiency by contributions from the partner institutions. The networking process based on the social partnership concepts implies joint goal-setting by the project partners for success of the project mission [2]. Forms and benefits of the networking partnership model in application to the penal system are still largely underexplored at this juncture. Thus, S.N. Afonichkin (2003) interprets ‘cooperation’ as a form of interaction of the penal institutions with the relevant civil organizations defined as the ‘agreed and harmonized interaction of the penal and corrective institutions with the relevant civil associations designed to support, harmonize, protect, improve and/or reform the social environment in the penal system by the relevant legal, management, technical and other partnerships’ [1]. The Corrective System Development Concept of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020 was amended in 2015 to improve the educational service efficiency in the penal system based ‘on the more active mobilization of the research resource of the relevant research institutions, higher educational establishments of the Federal Penal Service and advanced professional educational institutions in cooperation with other relevant academic and research establishments’ [3]. Specialists of a penal institution shall design their service based on the networking interdisciplinary (function-specific) partnerships to improve their services to convicts, with due contributions from the executive agencies and civil organizations.

For the purposes of the study, we developed and piloted a networking project to test the social-and educational support for re-socializing model with the relevant academic socio-cultural, research and educational resource being mobilized to train high-skilled physical education specialists, social workers and psychologies for success of the corrective process. The networking project was regulated by the Cooperation Agreement signed by the Penal and Corrective Service of the Ulyanovsk region and Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University named after I.N. Ulyanov. The Cooperation Agreement is viewed as a frame agreement for the joint efforts of the parties to the project including the relevant process design and management, research, practical, informational and financial provisions for the joint socially centered physical education and sporting activities in both of the institutions. Based on the Cooperation Agreement, the parties launched in 2016 three social projects to facilitate the innovative, physical education, sporting, socially centered project activity with voluntary contributions from the students/ athletes/ volunteers and faculty to the convicts’ re-socializing process. Components of the networking cooperation of the penal institutions with the pedagogical university may be listed as follows: sociological, psychological and educational process research to facilitate the social and educational contributions to the junior and mid-age convicts’ re-socializing process by the relevant physical education and sporting tools subject to research in the master’s and PhD theses; round tables, theoretical and practical workshops with contributions from the leading academicians, social workers, psychologists and managers of the penal institutions; programmatic and practical support by the relevant programs and instruction manuals for the physical education and sporting projects and group trainings in the sport disciplines most accessible and feasible for the penal institutions; training of volunteer physical training personnel recruited among the convicts; training workshops for the Penal and Corrective Service personnel; education and motivation initiatives including lectures on basics of healthy lifestyles, sports and health trainings, progress control and self-control tools etc., master classes from and meetings with sport celebrities; training and competitive activity including joint training sessions, matches and competitions in different sports; GTO Complex trainings and tests; repeat crime prevention efforts, with socially centered project initiatives to prevent and mitigate self-destructive, addictive and de-adaptive behavioural models in the convicts; and due informational support to help form an integrated informational environment to disseminate the best networking experience of the convicts re-socializing projects across the regions and Federation on the whole.

The pilot networking cooperation project has been implemented in the penal and corrective system of the Ulyanovsk region since January 2016 till now. For this period the project team has reported 34 joint events with participation of 387 convicts from 5 penal and corrective institutions in the region. The project has been found beneficial as verified by questionnaire surveys, academic progress and psychological tests performed by the penal system personnel and academic specialists; with the tests and surveys showing progress in the key test criteria, with the growing determination of the convicts for physical training, sports and other socially centered project activity. The project team has reported the following activities and participation numbers for the period: 200 junior convicts joined the GTO Complex events and tests; 300 convicts listened lectures on the HLS basics, GTO Complex implementation and sports in the Russian Federation and Ulyanovsk region; 240 convicts joined the mass sport events; 300 convicts were involved in the master classes of the leading athletes; 120 university students contributed to the joint physical education and sporting activity; numbers of the habitual physical activists in the system was reported to grow by 18.7%; 60 penal and corrective system specialists joined the physical training and sports workshops; 30 convicts were engaged in the workshop to train volunteer physical training instructors; and 245 convicts were engaged in the healthy self-rating basics mastering workshops, trainings to develop the psychological stress tolerance and problem-solution skills.

Conclusion. The networking partnerships have been found beneficial in at least the following two aspects: on the one hand, they help solve the most critical problems of the modern civil societies with concern to the convicts’ social rehabilitation to ensure the human resource being replenished by the loyal citizens having values system and positive lifestyles; and on the other hand, it helps build up the relevant professionally valuable competences and project skills and experiences in future physical education specialists, social workers and psychologists to make them more competent for the social services to different population groups.


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New detention standards require convicts being offered systemic re-socializing services based on an effective cooperation of penal institutions with relevant civil organizations, social and education service agencies and educational establishments. The article considers benefits of the new re-socializing service model based on the networking partnerships of the penal institutions with the relevant pedagogical universities. The educational experiment has confirmed benefits of the well-organized, socially centered cooperative physical education and sports service projects to engage convicts, students, volunteers, educators and leading university researchers; with the projects being designed to expand and improve the cooperation of the penal institutions with the relevant educational establishments for success of the socially sensitive corrective initiatives.