Role of UNESCO
A discussion on prison education in the Caribbean would not be complete without a discussion of the role of UNESCO, which has played a pioneering role in the promotion of EFA on a universal scale. The importance of this role is underscored by a review of CONFINTEA V in 1997. At this conference, UNESCO reasserted its commitment to adult education and made specific reference to the right to education for all prisoners. This is the essence of what this monograph seeks to address, that is, the focus on prison education as an aspect of adult education.
With respect to the international contribution of UNESCO to the adult education drive, the focus will be on CONFINTEA V. This conference, which was attended by 1,507 individuals from over 130 member states, saw presentations on adult education from the following regions: Asia and the Pacific; Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Arab states. Various themes were discussed which were in accordance with the general EFA guidelines on adult education including: Women’s education: The contending discourse and possibilities for changes; Health promotion and health education for adults; and Literacy education and social development. After all the discussions, the Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning and the Agenda for the Future were adopted.
A unique feature of this conference was that it brought marginalised and minority groups into the discussions on adult education, with special reference to prisoners. This was discussed under the theme: “Adult Learning for all: The rights and aspiration of different groups,” in the Agenda for the Future, which sets out, in detail, UNESCO’s new commitment to the development of adult learning as contained in the declaration.
Article 43 states:
The right to education is a universal right of all people. While there is an agreement that adult learning must be accessible to all, the reality is that many groups are still excluded, such as the aged, migrants, gypsies, and other non-territorial and/or nomadic people, refugees, disabled people and prison inmates. These groups should have access to education programmes that accommodate them….
Article 47 further states (specifically about prisoners):
[We therefore commit ourselves to]: Recognising the right to learn of all prison inmates:
By providing prison inmates with information on and access to different levels of education and training;
By developing and implementing comprehensive education programmes in prisons, with participation of inmates, to meet their needs and learning aspirations;
By making it easy for Non-Governmental Organisations, teachers and other providers of educational activities to work in prisons, thereby providing prisoners with access to educational institutions and encouraging initiatives that link courses carried out inside and outside prisons.