UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Academic secondary education in the federal prisons of British Columbia : the guidelines for an alternative program to the general equivalency diploma program Swift, Richard Anthony


The primary purposes of this thesis are, first, to argue that the existing secondary education program, the General Equivalency Diploma program (GED), offered to inmates in the Federal penitentiaries is not truly educational, and second, that there clearly exists the need to design a viable, alternative academic education program for potential secondary level students in the Federal penitentiary system of British Columbia. A comprehensive survey of the literature reveals that the Canadian Penitentiary Service has historically held numerous false assumptions about the educational process. For example, the most commonly used program at the secondary level, the G.E.D., despite its seemingly academic content, (Writing skills, Reading skills, Social Studies, Mathematics and Science), is not directed towards educational ends. While the G.E.D. does have some value and could be useful for some students, it is inadequate for the following reasons: it is simply a battery of five content area tests; it is not worthwhile for its own sake; it is 'training' or to be more accurate 'drilling' and not education; its substance is not thought and ideas; it is not structured in such a way as to promote understanding and a 'cognitive perspective', it is not flexible enough to take into account the academic capabilities of some inmates; and it does not adequately prepare the student for post-secondary education. Therefore an alternative education program at the secondary level is needed. In order to design an alternative program any inhibitors to education in prisons have to be identified. These inhibitors are noted and are taken into account in the guidelines for an alternative academic education program. This program is based on a set of principles which are found to be defensible in relation to the needs of students and on educational grounds.

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