Prison Education in Selected Caribbean Countries
In 1991, the Ministry of Education of The Bahamas, after examining the six target dimensions of the EFA programme, embarked upon a programme of comprehensive educational reform. It undertook the development of a five-year development plan, which resulted in the commissioning of a national task force to undertake the review of the education system. The task force was required to make recommendations to bring about improved efficiency and effectiveness in the system. It conducted investigations for one year, ensuring that the views of the general population with respect to the areas stipulated by the EFA guidelines were heard. Subsequently, there has been significant activity in these areas For the purpose of this monograph, however, the focus will be on activities in the areas of adult literacy and basic education; training in the essential skills required by adults; and the acquisition of positive attitudes and values towards health, the self, others, and the wider community.
Literacy Programmes in the General Adult Population
A survey conducted on behalf of UNICEF in 1996 (Bahamas. National Task Force on Education, 1999) found that 98.2% of the Bahamian population was able to read and write at a functional level, that is, they were functionally literate according to EFA standards. However, the Bahamian government is aiming to have a fully literate population; it desires a situation in which the entire population would have a level of comprehension above the present level. There has thus been a growing interest in adult literacy and continuing education programmes within The Bahamas. However, the focus is on non-formal programmes such as the following:
Let’s Read Bahamas, established in 1994 by the Ministry of Education, which is aimed at tutoring adults in an environment in which they are most comfortable, be it the home, school, or community centre. It has over 100 participants, mostly women and has facilitated the training of over 100 tutors to ensure wide dispersion island-wide.
Project Read, run by the Rotary Club, which has also been successful in assisting more than 100 adults, most of whom are females.
The Centre for Continuing Education and Extension Services, run by the College of The Bahamas, which offers the “Basic Workers Programme” and the “Over-Forty Programmes.” These have given adults who did not get the chance to complete secondary school the opportunity to do so.
These programmes show that The Bahamas has lived up to the EFA guidelines with regards to literacy training for adults. Its achievement with respect to the target of reducing the adult illiteracy rate has been in line with the its EFA obligations, as there has been a 1.2% increase in the adult literacy rate since the last statistics in 1990, which showed a 97% rate in comparison to the present rate of 98.2%. In addition, there have been more female participants, as stipulated by the EFA guidelines.
Introduction to the Prison System