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The philosophy which underpins the education system of Barbados is rooted in the fundamental principle that human resource development is the key to social, economic, and political growth. Consequently, its education system seeks to enable all persons, including youths and adults, to be knowledgeable and creative; to possess positive attitudes and relevant skills; to be exemplars of good citizenship; to believe in the quality of humanity; to be self-confident in planning their future; to be thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers; to inculcate the best social values and an appreciation of the dignity in all labour; and to be committed to the preservation and enhancement of the environment. (statement made by Barbados’ Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Culture in 1995). Inculcated in its education system is the underlying concept that learning or education is a continuous lifelong process. As a direct result, Barbados set up a National Commission on Education to hold meetings in communities all over the island, in order to adequately reform its education system, so that it could live up to its underpinning philosophy.

The Establishment of Prison Education in Barbados

The Barbados prison service was established in 1945 under the Prison Act of 1945 (1), which also provided for the control and treatment of prisoners in Barbados. In addition, a new Act 1961-66 set out provisions for the establishment of the prison service. The Act also provided for rules to be made, under Section 66, for the management of the prison and other institutions.

Specific provisions were made for evening educational programmes for the inmates at Glendairy Prison, under Section 73 of the Act of 1961-66, namely:

  • Programmes of evening educational classes shall be arranged and reasonable facilities, under such condition as the Officer-in-charge determines, shall be allowed to prisoners who wish in their leisure time to improve their education by private study or to practice handicrafts.

  • Special attention shall be paid to the education of illiterate prisoners.

  • Every prisoner able to profit by the educational facilities provided shall be encouraged to do so.

  • Educational facilities shall be provided for female prisoners similarly as for male prisoners and shall, so far as possible, include instruction in homemaking and child care in all appropriate cases.

  • A library shall be provided in every prison, and, subject to such conditions as the Officer-in- charge determines, every prisoner shall be allowed to borrow library books and to exchange as often as practicable.

  • Prisoners may receive books or periodicals from outside the prison under such conditions as the Officer-in-charge determines.

It is noteworthy that the fourth item reflects the traditional view of women’s education as, today, men and women are given equal opportunities in the choice of education courses.

Some of these learning opportunities were officially introduced in 1956. The educational programmes offered then were basic ones--English and Arithmetic. This educational programme was introduced and taught by Mr. Leslie Harris, a college teacher by profession, as well as a sports journalist and commentator on cricket and boxing, in both the print and radio media.

The following is the information available on early programmes:

  • All inmates entering the prison between the ages of 17 and 25 were required to participate in

educational classes.


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