Prison schools to reopen next week



Prison schools are set to reopen next week under the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in prisons.

According to the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), teaching staff can now access education centres to undertake preparatory work ahead of the reopening of prison schools from 19 April 2021.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has welcomed the move, while calling for a clear plan for equal roll-out across all prisons and the return to a normal and full education schedule as soon as possible.

Fíona Ní Chinnéide, IPRT executive director, said: “Today, April 12th, marks a day of hope with the first significant easing of restrictions for people in the community since December. The announcement that prison schools re-open next week will bring a similar sense of hope to the men and women who are engaged with education behind prison walls.

“Many of these students will have faced barriers in accessing traditional education and are now grasping the opportunity for educational development in prison. The blanket closure of all prison schools and face-to-face teaching has been a particularly significant disruption to their learning.

“Time and time again, research has shown that people who participate in education and training programmes are less likely to return to prison. It is crucial that people in prison continue to be provided with the opportunity to access in-person education, particularly in circumstances where there are very few confirmed Covid-19 cases in prison.”

The penal reform group has today published a briefing which reflects on the response to Covid-19 in Irish prisons over the past year, and sets out steps it says are now required to address the impact of Covid-19 on people in prison and their families.



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