Nurture social skills in jail

30th September 2005 at 01:00
In The TES (September 2), I glanced at a public notice for tender, it read:

"Invitation for Expression of Interest - New Integrated Learning and Skills Service for Offenders."

What I found alarmed me, to see that the Learning and Skills Council for England (LSC) could suggest that this was "an exciting and major challenge for the integrated service", but what they went on to suggest was that the major objective of this integrated service would "be to move quickly towards a seamless learning journey for offenders, making their learning relevant to the needs of the labour market".

The first thing I thought was that as far as education is concerned, our primary commitment as educators is to help facilitate the best conditions to produce the best human beings we can, not simply produce humans that have an education that is more relevant to the needs of the labour market; education that helps them find their place back in society.

While I fully appreciate the great importance of all the skills that are being offered to prisoners and juveniles, and that these skills will be invaluable, I feel the most important element of education is missing.

Society needs people who can communicate with the world first and serve society from the basis of that deeper communication, second.

Happy, confident and open-minded individuals will create a society full of people who are more likely to participate in a forward-looking workforce.

Dean Rees-Evans Co-director of the Blue Balloon Foundation ReesEvans@aol.com

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