Secure colleges are planned to open in Wales and England to give young offenders education and skills to tackle real life after their sentences.
These colleges would open their doors to 15 and 17 years old who have been excluded from school and have literacy problems.
Some Welsh prisons such as South Wales Young Offenders Institution G4S agree with Director of Cookham Wood Prison to say that “education absolutely is vital and having a conversation about what that education should like and how much of it there should be is at the heart of the conversation we should be having.”
Young offenders should be provided with 15 hours of education, training and employment advice per week, which will develop their skills and make their integration in the working life easier.
The All-Wales Youth Offending Strategy, a merger from the Welsh Assembly Government and the Youth Justice Board, is responsible for Youth Justice in Wales.
Among its considerations is the Welsh language, which is important in delivering services to young people who favour speaking their first language.
Increasing engagement in learning and employment plus providing suitable accommodation for young people are part of the objectives of the All-Wales Youth Offending Strategy.
Approximately £245 million a year is devoted to the detention of nearly 1,800 people.
This investment is contested as figures show that 73% of former young prisoners re-offend within a year, in comparison to 47% of adults leaving custody.
The cost of these schools is high but Ministers say detaining young prisoners costs more than sending them to a new kind of private school.
These measures could potentially concern the 3,645 young offenders who were sentenced from June 2011 to June 2012.
Cookham Wood Prison offender, 17, said “it’s very important because I didn’t finish school so I don’t really have many qualifications, but in here I’m getting as much as I can. It will help me in the long run to get jobs.”
For many, this education represents a new hope as another offender, 18, said: “it’s made a difference because before I didn’t know anything about painting and decorating, I didn’t know anything about living on my own.”
Comparable institutions have opened in several countries under the impetus of Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
In Uruguay, 60% of imprisoned people are under 30 years old and many have received little or none education.
To address the educational needs, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the National Administration of Public Education conducted educational projects in prisons on different subjects such as health, family life and literacy skills among others.
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