The importance of Education in jails
I know I’ve mentioned it before on my blog (Not a good week, Wednesday 11/5/16, and this BuzzFeed interview) but I thought I’d share my latest foray into speaking out about this very important issue. I was interviewed by a local TV station during the week and I don’t know about you but I really don’t like watching or hearing myself. Despite my insecurities I’m quite proud of my efforts.
So what’s it all about?
The NSW State Government have announced that education provision in the state’s correctional centres will be put out to tender (except in 4 centres that have specialised Education units). Approximately 150 qualified educators will be replaced with clerks positions, which will not require any education qualifications. These clerk positions will be a reduction by about half of all current education staff. The current staff will have to apply for these clerk positions which will be at a lower pay rate and with reduced conditions. If they don’t get one of these roles they will need to find work with other education providers in their area or wait for a possible redundancy payout.
What are the issues?
- Qualified teachers currently employed will be out of a job by early 2017. We are a small group but there will be job losses for approximately 150 teachers.
- Education provision will not be delivered by the specialist, expert teachers that have years of experience in dealing with this vulnerable, and often challenging, cohort of students.
- Education staff will be replaced by clerks.
- Literacy, numeracy and vocational education skills are vital for inmates to learn new skills, gain qualifications and help them with gaining meaningful employment, not to mention leading useful lives, after gaol.
- The majority of inmates will be released back into communities and most need all the help they can get in order to stay out.
- Our qualified, experienced, holistic approach to inmates and their education needs will be removed to be replaced by statistical completions from private providers who don’t know the system, the inmates and the many intricate challenges.
- Why are we allowing a disenfranchised cohort, the most damaged by our systems and educational experiences to be deemed less deserving of a good, well-rounded education?
- Public education help rebuilds inmate’s lives so that they make better neighbours when they are released.
- I have an amazing dedicated professional team, like many other centres, so how can their replacement by an inferior service be economical in the quest for reducing recidivism?
- We are all feeling a variety of emotions – insulted, devastated, depressed, unvalued, sold out, hurt, angry….
- Currently we work with staff to provide worthwhile, useful and meaningful courses to help with work onsite and provide relevant qualifications for release plans. For the Minister to say that the current system lacks a ‘job skills focus’ is just so wrong and shows his total lack of knowledge of what is actually happening. There has been a lot of inaccurate information put out about this and it really annoys me.
As I’m the local union representative I will continue to speak out and share my thoughts. I don’t hold out much hope of things changing, but at least I can try and lend my voice.
It helps me get my thoughts together when I write about it, so thanks again for reading and for all the support you’ve given me to date.
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