A new school building, valued at approximately J$3.19 million (US$25,000), is being built at the Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre in St. Catherine by Food for the Poor.
The facility, which will be used to deliver the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) educational and vocational programme for inmates incarcerated at the institution, will comprise three classrooms, an office and sanitation facilities.
Additionally, it will be outfitted with desks and chairs for instructors and students by Food for the Poor, which will also renovate the institution’s computer room as part of the 10-week project.
The initiative, which is being done under the charity organisation’s Prison Ministry Programme, will benefit over 200 inmates.
State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., Food for the Poor Executive Director, David Mair, and Commissioner of Corrections, Ina Hunter, broke ground to commence construction on February 14.
Welcoming the project, Senator Charles said it demonstrates the type of partnership needed to spur prosperity in Jamaica, by addressing the factors causing crime and violence and instituting alternatives.
He said the Administration continues to emphasise the importance of a “comprehensive approach” in this regard where the focus is not only geared towards keeping persons out of correctional institutions, “but keeping offenders who are released away from our facilities.”
“We want to prevent crime on both ends…and to do so requires us to have the understanding that education is the foundation of any man or woman being able to claim their independence, whether it is economic or personal, or freedom from criminal activities,” the State Minister said.
In this regard, Senator Charles urged the inmates who will benefit from the new school to preserve it as “it represents your platform for transformation.”
For his part, Mr. Mair said Food for the Poor “believes in and values education.”
“Since our inception, we have been guided by the belief that an investment in education is integral to breaking the cycle of poverty,” he added.
In this regard, Mr. Mair said the organisation built 37 early childhood institutions islandwide between 2015 and 2016, noting that “our reason for doing this is to empower our children to become the best version of themselves.”
“It is for this reason why we break ground for this school building at Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre…to empower the over 200 inmates to develop and maximise their full potential (which) can only be achieved through educational rehabilitation,” he added.
Ms. Hunter, in expressing gratitude to Food for the Poor, said the endeavour is a dream come true.
She cited challenges experienced by the DCS during its initial attempts to rehabilitate inmates through education, emphasising that “if we want our inmates to be empowered and lead successful lives, then it is important that we meet them at (the point of) their greatest need…and that is through literacy development.”
“When we invest in education, we invest in the future of our country. Hence, the better equipped our inmates are, the more likely it is that they will be reintegrated successfully (into the society), having garnered the skills and competencies that I know the school will facilitate,” Ms. Hunter said.
Article by: Douglas McIntosh
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm