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Early release? Walwyn touts new push to educate inmates



Inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison now have an opportunity to sit Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) exams through an educational programme that has been launched at the territory’s correctional facility. Participation in the programme can also help determine how long an inmate stays in prison as it relates to parole.

The initiative – dubbed the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence Educational and Vocational Programme – offers subjects such as Mathematics, English, Social Studies, Science, Plumbing, and Electrical Wiring.

During the launch of the programme at the prison this week, Minister of Education Myron Walwyn said the initiative is aligned with the general education system so that convicts – upon release – will have the option to continue their education or move on to higher learning.

“We will be using the curriculum of the CXC’s Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC). And, as students advance, they will be allowed to do the CXC Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), or any other programmes deemed necessary. This will provide the inmates with a solid foundation and allow them to prepare for future studies at other levels – should they so desire,” Walwyn said.

While urging inmates to seize the opportunity, he noted that persons who enroll in the programme may become more eligible for parole.

“With the launch of the Parole Board and the opportunity for inmates to apply for parole, we anticipate that participation in the education programme will form a vital part of the inmate’s dossier to be considered by the Board…”

“We anticipate that every single inmate will make use of this opportunity to put them on a path of lifelong learning. Attending the education classes is a critical part of the inmates sentence plan here at the institution. Education cannot be under-estimated, and [it] opens doors that are almost impossible without it,” added Walwyn.

Before enrolling in the programme, inmates will have to test their academic level by undergoing what is known as the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). Effectively, WRAT assesses each inmate’s ability to read, understand, spell, and do Math.

“[This] gives the teachers an idea of where each person is cognitively. This is important as each person must be met at his/her level to ensure successful outcomes,” Walwyn said.

Twenty-six inmates already have been enrolled in the programme, which can span anywhere from one to five years depending on the student’s learning pace, the education ministry said.

It added that the programme is designed to contribute to the overall rehabilitation process.

Walwyn noted that efforts are being made to ensure rehabilitated inmates who are released have access to a variety of opportunities in the society. He also urged relatives of incarcerated persons to support the new educational programme.

“My ministry will continue to work diligently to provide the necessary opportunities at all levels to ensure our people are ready and able to continue building this country. I want to make an appeal to family, friends and loved ones to encourage your family member or friend here at the prison to make good use of this opportunity,” he said.

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