Prisoners rack up CSEC passes
Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
An inmate who gained a distinction (Grade 1) in English language and a pass (Grade 3) in mathematics in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations was the standout performer among the 35 inmates at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston and the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre, St Catherine.
He was among the 13 males from a batch of 15 who were successful in mathematics, and nine of the 18 who sat English language. Two of the five women at Fort Augusta who did mathematics also passed in the first sitting of the CSEC facilitated by the Department of Correctional Services. The statistics were released on Tuesday during a press conference hosted by Stand Up for Jamaica and the European Union (EU), which jointly funded the project.
The EU has been supporting the rehabilitation programme in penal institutions since 2010 in the areas of remedial classes for inmates, library upgrades, human rights training for staff, a radio programme for inmates, and special psychological support ahead of their release to help them successfully reintegrate into society.
Achim Shaffert, head of section, the Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, used the occasion to urge Jamaicans to support convicted criminals who have served their sentences and are serious about turning their lives around.
"It is important to note that while the EU does not wish to diminish the importance of personal responsibility when a crime has been committed, it is important that we remember the human capacity for change," Shaffert told the audience at the Jamaica Red Cross offices in St Andrew.
"It is critical that we remember that the men and women in prison today may very well be our neighbours tomorrow when they return to reside in our communities," he said.
He added that people are sent to prison as punishment rather than to be punished and, therefore, opportunities for rehabilitation should be encouraged.
Carla Gullotta, executive director of Stand Up for Jamaica, who was delighted with the performance of the inmates, also supported the call for the society to be more forgiving.
"It is unfortunate that persons behind bars are normally written off and not given the chance to right their wrongs, pick up the pieces, and move on where necessary," she said. "We call upon all Jamaicans, especially employers, to lend their support to this initiative and give rehabilitated persons a chance to get their lives back together."