Prison teacher plan unpicked
A plan to bring unqualified teachers in NSW prison is causing a lot of controversy.
Earlier this year, NSW Corrections Minister David Elliott outlined plans to cut the number of teachers in jails from 152 full-time positions to 20.
The Government is trying to fill some of the gap by creating 60 new roles that do not require teaching degrees.
Mr Elliott claimed one of the reasons for the “restructure” was that prison teachers not flexible enough with their working hours.
“Under the current system, there are limited teaching hours available in December-January, April and July,” Mr Elliott said.
“Of the hours that are potentially available, only 62 per cent are used.
“Education programs are not being cut, but will be expanded and delivered by an external organisation monitored by Corrective Services NSW.
“It will more than double the number of inmates completing literacy and numeracy courses to 1,840 per annum.”
But advocates for both teachers and prisoners say it is not the way to go.
The NSW Teachers Federation says only fully-trained teachers can help inmates, as they must deal with issues of low literacy, complex psychological conditions and learning difficulties.
“If this is just about cost-cutting it's a disaster, it's a very very high-risk strategy,” Teachers Federation Organiser Rob Long told the ABC.
“We know you need really experienced, highly qualified teachers in jails in order to rehabilitate people.”
Social Justice Commissioner for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander People Mick Gooda wants trained teachers in jails too.
“It's just not a job everyone can do, you can't pluck people off the streets to do this,” he said.
“We know that Aboriginal people are incarcerated at a greater rate than anyone else in this country and I just wonder whether this is going to work in the long term.”