(CMR) Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service (HMCIPS) has entered into a formal partnership with the UWI Open Campus to deliver education and skills training to inmates.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the Government Administration Building, Grand Cayman, on 12 August 2021.
As part of the agreement, the UWI Open Campus will also focus on building the educational capacity of Education Officers to ensure robust support of the training initiatives within the facilities.
The collaboration was spearheaded by the UWI Open Campus, Cayman Islands site, with the support of the university’s British Overseas Territories (BOTs) team. It is a pioneering initiative for the Caribbean, as it is the first time a recognized university/institution of higher learning has formalized a partnership arrangement with a prison aimed at preventing recidivism.
Just last week, the Cayman Islands Independent Board for Prisons and Places of Detention, in its 2020 report, expressed concerns about the educational needs of juveniles who are incarcerated.
The new training program is expected to develop a sense of entrepreneurship in the inmates, and the educational programs will seek to empower, inspire hope and create the kind of resilience required to overcome the social and economic challenges experienced by many leaving the Prison.
Principal of the UWI Open Campus, Dr. Francis O. Severin, commented, “The UWI Open Campus is not only delighted but also thrilled to be part of this initiative and partnership which will ultimately redound to the benefit of the entire society.”
“Such educational interventions that engage and empower ‘ordinary’ people and those who have sometimes unfortunately found themselves on the periphery of society are a fundamental part of what drive us as an educational institution. This is authentic activism, and we commend the HMCIPS for partnering with us.”
Director of Prisons, Steve Barrett, stated “On behalf of the Prison Service and the Ministry of Home Affairs, I am extremely pleased that my rehabilitation team has managed to formalise our partnership with UWI through this Agreement.
“This collaboration will significantly modernize and extend the portfolio of educational programs on offer to those in our custody. The Government has made a commitment through its Broad Outcomes to improve education to promote lifelong learning and greater economic mobility; this partnership is a tangible step along this journey.”
Dr. Phyllis Fleming-Banks, Manager, British Overseas Territories (BOTs), and Dr. Beverly Shirley, located here in the Cayman Islands and responsible for the design, development, and delivery of academic programs across the BOTs, noted that they were truly excited about the future of this initiative and its capacity to raise the skills and abilities of inmates, increase their employability and improve social integration within the communities of the Cayman Islands.
In brief remarks at the signing, Home Affairs Minister Bernie Bush noted that since 2017 some 90 percent of the prison population had registered to learn educational and vocational skills. The program has led to 200 inmates successfully gaining certification, enhancing their prospects when they return to the community.
“From earning qualifications in computer literacy and small business management to gaining doctoral degrees, this initiative offers our inmates and prison officers a wide range of courses. This extended program is strongly endorsed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the PACT Government as a shining example of what innovation, education, and partnership can achieve,” the Minister commented.