After CXC, College for inmates?

Is Bordelais finally becoming more than just a prison but an actual correctional facility?

It is not very often that the Bordelais Correctional Facility makes news for positive reasons.  For the most part, the negative casts such a large shadow that the impact of the positive efforts by the facility is often ignored.
This time around may be different as Bordelais definitely has a celebratory atmosphere.  On Thursday August 18, Bordelais Director Hilary Herman called a press conference to announce the inmates’ Caribbean Examiniations Council  results.
Twenty seven inmates sat CXC this year, for the first time ever in the prison’s history, and recorded a more than ninety percent pass rate.  Herman says he is elated by the results and believes the education program has taken Bordelais one step closer to being a correctional facility.  He gives full credit to the education team and the inmates for this milestone.
The inmates wrote four subjects this year: English Language, Mathematics, Principles of Business and Social Studies.  Six inmates wrote English A and five succeeded in attaining four Ones and one Two.  There was one distinction recorded.  Seven inmates sat the Mathematics exam.  Five succeeded with one distinction, two Twos and two Threes.  Six inmates wrote the POB exam and five passed with one distinction, two Ones, two Twos and one Three.  Social Studies had the largest number of inmates totally eight students.  SS recorded all passes with two Ones, one Two and five threes.
Out of the 27 inmates who wrote the CXC exam, only one inmate did not get one or more subjects and two were over the age of fifty.
Bordelais is awaiting the results of the CCSLC exam which is administered to Form Three students and is a course offered at the prison.  The results are out next week and the education team is confident the inmates attained exceptional grades.
The interest in the program is phenomenal among inmates but the numbers have to be controlled because of limited staff.  Currently, there are three civilian remedial teachers and two correctional officers who also serve in a dual capacity as remedial teachers.  The team believes with additional manpower, more students can be accommodated and the subject base can be broadened.
Herman told the press, “As you can imagine, because of the attention and atmosphere of getting a One, just that will generate its own interest within the prison walls.  What we now have to do is change the reality.  We need to get additional staffing because to have two remedial teachers for 519 inmates, the numbers just don’t add up.”
Herman revealed there have been discussions on the way forward after an inmate has succeeded in the exams and is released into society.  “How do we assist inmates in being more attractive when they go out into society when they leave prison with CXC results.  The results don’t show that it was done in Bordelais.  There are several proposals being set forward in trying to assist them,  proposals to the government to offer incentives to the private sector for every inmate that is hired.  There are several others being put forward to see which one the government will buy off on.”
Bethel Joyeaux is the civilian remedial English Language teacher.  She spoke of her experience over the last year.  She said, “When I first started here, I never thought I would have been able to cope with it but it has really been a joy working with the inmates.  I’ve learnt a lot from them and they’ve learned from me.  I have no regrets about it.  They have written CXC and shown us they are capable of doing academics, growing from strength to strength.  You have to be on the ground to understand what it is like working with inmates.”
She went further to admit that when she took up the job, she thought the classroom environment would have been one of hostility and rowdiness.  Her opinion changed very quickly.  She said, “Into my second week I realized they were people just like you and I.  They sit in class, well behaved, disciplined, respectful and ready to capture every word.  They do not want you to be absent.  They do not want you to be late because they want to be in class every day.”
Joyeaux says she better understands human nature and is thankful she put others before herself in this situation.
Building on what Joyeaux said, Herman interjected, “This is the way we’ll reduce our 49 percent recidivism rate.  It is through education . . . any part of rehabilitation starts with education.  We’ve tapped into the right target.”
Bordelais is in the process of discussing the development of the education program over the coming years.  The education team is aiming at introducing tertiary level programs and has already been dialoguing with the Continuing Education Program at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.  The problem for them is not a disinterested prison population but rather the resources required to execute such a program.

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