Some of the inmates who are enrolled in the programme.
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Persons who have been incarcerated at Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) must leave those gates in a better position to reintegrate into the community and to contribute to the development of the country, vowed Hon. Myron Walwyn, Minister of Education and Culture.
The Minister made those remarks at the launch ceremony of an educational and vocational programme to provide inmates with a structured curriculum. The ceremony was held this week on the grounds of the Balsam Ghut penitentiary.
"In 2012 after taking office, I announced that as we go forward with plans for this institution, rehabilitation must be at the nexus," the Minister said.
The programme is based on the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) modular curriculum and will cover core subjects such as Mathematics, English, Social Studies and Science, and will also include Plumbing and Electrical as the two main vocational courses.
Minister Walwyn said that the programme has been re-engineered as a critical part of a rehabilitation programme to provide inmates with a structured curriculum which prepares them for eventual study at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, and the Alternative Secondary Education Programme.
“The Ministry of Education and Culture has worked diligently to ensure that the programme is aligned with the general education system so that upon release, there is an opportunity for inmates to continue their education or complete work started at the prison in the education programme with the Alternative Secondary Education Programme.”
The objectives are to provide inmates with educational opportunities by offering educational and vocational training through social learning, to foster lifelong learning skills as well as to detect and address missing gaps in their education and learning skills.
Twenty-six inmates are presently enrolled in the programme, which runs from one to five years, depending on the student’s pace.
Minister Walwyn said that the Ministry has established a very successful Youth Employment Services (YES) programme for persons who are desirous of moving on to the workplace. The YES programme, he said, will be linked with the vocational programme at the prison to ensure that young persons who are in the penal system, who would have completed a certain level of their education, and who are working towards a high school diploma or other certification, can have assistance in finding jobs.
Inmates must undergo a screening tool to determine their academic level by using the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) before registering for courses. The WRAT test is an academic skills assessment which measures reading skills, math skills, spelling and comprehension.