Why the EU is investing in a prison education programme in Jamaica

07/12/2017 - 11:53
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The EU supports the Stand Up for Jamaica prison education programme, investing in rehabilitation and a sustainable, more peaceful and more prosperous future for Jamaica's youth.

prison education programme, Jamaica, EU

The Caribbean Secondary School Education Certification (CSEC) exams are important prerequisites for accessing employment and tertiary level education opportunities in Jamaica. Through the prison school programme, funded with support from the European Union, inmates are given the opportunity to sit these exams and in so doing improve their employability and prospects for reintegration upon their release. Around 80% of inmates successfully pass the exams each year.

Executive Director of Stand Up Jamaica, Maria Carla Gullotta has hailed the results as a positive sign of rehabilitation in Jamaica’s prisons, and a step towards a more peaceful and prosperous society.

"Rehabilitation is the best way to fight against crime and violence, and the instruments are education, professional skills and psychological help." she said.



Thanks to the EU funding, the rehabilitation project is now being expanded to cover double the number of prisons and more subjects, and to support ex-inmates in finding employment with companies or setting up their own businesses.

Malgorzata Wasilewska, Head of the EU Mission to Jamaica, says difficulties finding work because of lack of qualifications as well as stigma and discrimination can cause ex-prisoners to lose hope and re-offend.

"Not everyone is lucky enough to get a good start in life and access to a decent education. But nobody should be left behind, or denied a second chance, in particular young people. This programme provides that second chance for them turn their lives around."

The programme complements the EU's work to support Jamaica in reforming its justice system, which is critical to a strong functioning democracy and stable country. Recent projects include providing all court rooms across the country with high tech video and digital audio recording equipment to improve transparency and efficiency in the disposal of cases, thereby reducing the case backlog. The use of video links will also encourage more witnesses to testify.

Between 2014 and 2020, the EU is providing more than EUR 80 million in aid to Jamaica. The EU's other priorities are protecting the environment, curbing climate change and improving the management of public finances.