Seventy inmates at the Davao City Jail are getting another chance at leading a productive life once they get out of prison through a unique NGO-BJMP-SUC partnership in Davao City.
This partnership, the first in the Philippines and possibly in all of Asia, called the College Education Behind Bars (CEBB) brings together the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Social Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Business Institute (SETBI) to support inmates who want to continue their education while in detention.
Government and non-governmental organizations (NGO) leaders Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera, USeP President Lourdes Generalo, SETBI officials Dr. Aland Mizell and Atty. Susan Cariaga, and BJMP RO-XI Regional Director J/Ssupt. Amelia Rayandayan launched this initiative at the Ma-a City Jail in
Davao City recently.
CEBB aims to provide the inmates, most of who are incarcerated for drug offenses, the means to advance their education while in prison. It also offers them a recovery program while obtaining their college diplomas, so that if or when they are released, they are fully equipped to go back in the society and not be a burden to their families
The program helps detainees develop skills critical to completing a college degree and to building personal relationships based on mutual trust – both designed to significantly increase their chances of succeeding when returning to the community.
The program is offered to student inmates for free. When inmate students graduate, they receive a diploma from USeP because they read the same university assigned textbooks and complete the same curricular requirements as students in the regular campus.
Unlike most continuing education initiatives where classes are held inside the jail or prison compound, CEBB classes are held in air conditioned classrooms with computers.
There is even a coffee shop at the ground floor of the new building constructed inside the jail compound with the support of the SETBI. According to Mizell, this enables student to really study and feel that they are outside the confines of detention. Students leave the confines of the city jail and move to the newly constructed building for their classes and go back to their cells in the afternoon.
Before students enrolled in the program, SETBI interviewed them about their motivation, length of sentence, and background. USeP administered the admissions exam and screened detainees for basic literacy and readiness for college using such assessment tools as the Test of Adult Basic Education to determine their grade level
andvocational assessment needs.
Out of the 300 assessed detainee-applicants, 70 detainees (45 males and 25 females) passed the entrance examination. The students can enroll in either the Bachelor of Information Technology or the Bachelor of Agribusiness program. Two other degree programs, Social Entrpreneurship and Hotel and Restaurant Management will be
offered in the coming years.
CHED will throw its full support to replicate this program by tapping state universities and colleges (SUCs) to link with BJMP and local governments all over the country. Several local governments have already indicated their interest to partner with SUCs and the BJMP to launch similar programs in their localities.
J. PROSPERO E. DE VERA III
|Statement of CHED Spokesman J. Prospero E. De Vara III Detainees Receive Unique Education Behind Bars in Davao City|