Juvenile Remandees Receiving Better Access to Education

Story Highlights

  • Twenty-six youngsters from juvenile correctional centres across the island are now sitting CXC examinations.
  • The Government has improved the educational programmes of these institutions.
  • Commissioner of Corrections, Jevene Bent, said several improvements have been made to enhance the quality of education offered within the island’s four juvenile institutions.

Twenty-six youngsters from juvenile correctional centres across the island are now sitting Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations, as the Government improves the educational programmes of these institutions.

Commissioner of Corrections, Jevene Bent, who made the disclosure, said several improvements have been made to enhance the quality of education offered within the island’s four juvenile institutions.

She was responding to questions at a recent press conference regarding a National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report done in March, 2013 which found that the quality of teaching and curricular offerings at the centres were not up to standard.

Ms. Bent pointed out that the Department of Correctional Services received the report in August last year, and had since then taken steps to improve the education of wards and remandees.

She noted that while education for remandees who leave the institutions on a daily basis is limited, there are greater educational opportunities for wards, who have an average stay of three years.

Wards and remandees are accommodated at the Hill Top Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann, Rio Cobre Juvenile Centre in St Catherine, the Diamond Crest Juvenile Correctional Centre in Manchester, and the Metcalfe Street Secured Juvenile Centre in Kingston.

The Commissioner noted that when the wards and remandees come into the facilities, they are risk-assessed as well as assessed generally to determine their level of education. “Quite a number of our wards and remandees are very low (in educational attainment), some of them cannot read and write. So there is a challenge with placement,” she said.

Ms. Bent informed that additional and more qualified educators are now employed within the institutions.
There are currently 28 trained teachers and instructors in the department, up from 10 when the NEI assessment was done.

The Commissioner further informed that changes have been made to improve the various curricula offered, including an expansion of the number of subjects taught.

In addition, Ms. Bent pointed out that the department now has a qualified educational coordinator, who has a Master’s degree in curriculum development, a first degree and a teacher education diploma.

In the meantime, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, noted that since the report, improvements have been made to the way in which educational programmes are delivered by the institutions.

He noted for example, that the female wards were previously splintered among several institutions, to receive the full range of subjects, posing logistics challenges. The programmes have since been consolidated and are now offered at the South Camp location.

“We are coming from a position that was far from desirable to one that has improved substantially. We have not yet arrived at the ideal, but…a lot of work has gone into things so far,” he said.

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