Statement

Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture
Topics: 
Prisons
Release Date:
Thursday, 13 October 2016 - 1:22pm

STATEMENT BY THE
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION & CULTURE
HONOURABLE MYRON V. WALWYN
at the Second Sitting of the Second Session of the Third House of Assembly
October 13, 2016

Organisation of the Education Programme at Her Majesty’s Prison

“Ensuring that our inmates are given every opportunity to be ready to reintegrate and to be responsible and contributing citizens of this community is

our responsibility.”

Madam Speaker thank you for allowing me to give an update on the rehabilitation programme at Her Majesty’s Prison with specific reference to the education programme. Madam Speaker in 2013 I issued a mandate for rehabilitation to become the core of activities at Her Majesty’s Prison as we seek to reduce repeat offending as well as prepare inmates to be in a position to reintegrate into the community.

One aspect of the rehabilitation programme is to provide inmates with the opportunity to gain formal education certification. Madam Speaker what we are putting in place is a structured and formalized programme to get more inmates involved and on track to use the time at Her Majesty’s Prison to earn certification and increase their chances of employment, development of self confidence and preparedness to be active and contributing members of society.   

Education officials have been working closely with Prison officials to ensure that this takes place. The objectives of this programme are to:

  • Align the curriculum with main stream education programmes,
  • Provide all inmates with education opportunities by offering social learning, active citizenship vocational training and lifelong learning skills,
  • Detect missing gaps in their education and learning skills and
  • Improve inmates’ future job prospects

The key component of carrying out this task is using the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) as a screening tool to determine the academic level of each prisoner and to prescribe the placement point in the programme. This test measures the basic academic skills for effective learning, communication and thinking: the   ability to read words, comprehend sentences, spell and compute solutions to math problems.  The test caters for ages 5-94. The subject offerings include:

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • A key skill
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Information Technology

We propose Madam Speaker to use The Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) modular curriculum which spans from one year to five years depending on the student’s pace for the four main subjects – Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and   Science. Each subject has five modules. The CCSLC Madam Speaker will:

  • Eliminate the step which entails writing the curriculum modules, in other words we do not have to reinvent the wheel. 
  •  Give inmates a solid foundation for lifelong learning with a structured  curriculum which prepares them for eventual study at other levels, and thus earn a high school diploma at the Alternative Secondary Education Programme or certification at CXC CSEC, CAPE or other external examinations which they may wish to pursue.
  • The programme will provide a benchmark of achievement with externally marked competence tests and certification to ease the transition into ASEP and the workplace.
  • The CCSLC programme has little costs associated with it. Training for teachers is free provided that advance notice is given to the Caribbean Examination Council.  The exams cost is $12.50 per subject per candidate, which the Ministry will pay. The syllabus can be downloaded from CXC’s website.
  • The programme allows for the easy alignment of prison activities and     programmes.   The curriculum has a flexible structure and can be taught alongside any other curriculum, and it also assists in tracking students’   progress and identifying barriers to learning through tests.

The assessment will comprise of both teacher assessments and external assessments and the grades achieved will state whether a person is developing competence and has mastered the concepts. Candidates can receive certification for individual subjects or for all.

Inmates whose sentences have ended before completing the entire programme will have a   seamless transition into mainstream education at Secondary School or at the Alternative Secondary Education Programme.

Madam Speaker, we will be qualifying eight prison officers to administer the WRAT test. Five have already received training and the remaining three will be trained on the 18th of this month. All inmates will be screened starting on October 19th. With this completed, the formal classes are scheduled to begin January 2017.

We expect Madam Speaker that the education programme will be built into each inmate’s sentence plan and therefore will play a pivotal role when an inmate is   being considered for Parole. We see this as an incentive to encourage inmates to take advantage of the programme. It prepares them to reintegrate into society with improved learning and skills for better job opportunities and avoid repeat offending.   

I wish to thank Dr Lavon Chalwell-Brewley who has been working on this for the Ministry for quite some time now. She has truly shown a keen interest in making this programme successful. I would also like to thank the Superintendent of Prisons, Mr David Foot, and Mr Alford Harrigan, a teacher at Her Majesty’s Prison for working steadfastly to ensure that this becomes a reality. Ensuring that our inmates are given every opportunity to be ready to reintegrate and to be responsible and contributing citizens of this community is our responsibility. We want to encourage them all to make use of this opportunity to improve their prospects.

I take this time to encourage those that are incarcerated and to beg of them to utilize this opportunity. Our Territory needs the skills and talents of all of its residents if we are to be successful in this challenging era. As this country invests in your development and opportunities for reintegration, we ask that you take advantage of this opportunity and prepare yourselves to return to society as positive and contributing residents.  I also encourage family and friends to support inmates as they take this step towards rehabilitation through education. 

Thank you Madam Speaker.