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Literacy Programmes in the Prison Population

The main aims of the St. Lucian prison system, as presented at the 1998 UNESCO workshop, are:

  • To provide security, which is its first priority.

  • To treat and to train offenders so that they may return to society as better individuals.

However, the presenter stated that there were many obstacles preventing the accomplishment of these aims; an admission that these aims, in particular the rehabilitative aspects, were not being properly met.

There were no recorded literacy training efforts in the St. Lucian prison system, in comparison to those available in the wider adult population. Among the obstacles cited by the presenter were: overcrowding, inadequate facilities, the mixing of remand and penal prisoners, understaffing, the unavailability of human resources, and lack of training for prison staff. The presenter indicated that although the St. Lucian administration recognised that there is need for reform, at present, it is concerned with infrastructural reform, as evidenced by the following developments throughout the 1990s:

  • The 1991 Gibbard report, commissioned to make recommendations for a more effective prison administration, emphasised the need for categorisation of prisoners, security and training management for staff, and a maximum security prison farm. There were no recommendations regarding literacy training for inmates.

  • The 1997 Commission of Enquiry, after a prison fire, proposed that the construction of a modern prison be the top priority of the government. Again there was no recommendation for literacy training.

  • The summoning of the Penal Reform International by the government resulted in an investigation into the physical conditions and organisational structure of the prison system. There was no mention of literacy training.

This leads to the conclusion that the St. Lucian prison system has not been on target in conforming to the EFA guidelines for adult education, in terms of literacy training. It is, at present, mainly focused on addressing the physical requirements of the institution itself which, according to the government, is the beginning of in-depth reform programmes for inmates.

Skills Training in the General Adult Population

From the data reviewed, skills training for St. Lucian adults, unlike literacy training, has not been a major area of focus by the government. However, some skills training courses have been initiated in collaboration with the Organization of American States (OAS). Courses offered are sewing, culinary arts, cake decorating, plumbing, carpentry/joinery skills, appliance repair, and basic electrical installation. The fact still remains, however, that this has not been targeted as a major goal under the umbrella of adult education. The 1999 country report for the EFA Assessment identified this as one of the major limitations of the adult education programme. The government is thus aiming to restructure its programme by offering modular credit-bearing courses in skills training, agriculture, and other technical/vocational skills.

Skills Training in the Prison Population

While there has been mention of skills training in the St. Lucian prison system, there is no documentation on the kinds or number of programmes offered, or any other in-depth information on skills training. Therefore, a fair assessment cannot be made.


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