KAJANG: Juveniles in prisons will now have a brighter future.
The Education Ministry has approved to place 102 teachers in prison schools nationwide to educate young prisoners with immediate effect.
Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong said there were nine prison schools nationwide and each school would have 11 teachers.
Wee said eight teachers would provide purely academic teaching while the other three would concentrate on rehabilitation, counselling and religious studies.
He said the remaining three of the 102 teachers would be sent to all nine prison schools to see how the others were coping with the students.
"I am very impressed after visiting the classrooms here today and I am also surprised that many of the students were illiterate when they first came to prison," he said at the Kajang Prison yesterday.
Wee also handed over textbooks from the ministry to the prison.
Also present were Prisons Department director-general Datuk Mustafa Osman and his deputy Datuk Zukifli Omar.
Wee said there were many juveniles who left prison and had done well in their studies.
"I am very proud of these juveniles who had changed their attitudes and have taken their studies very seriously. Some of them are pursuing their degrees in local universities."
Wee said he hoped that society would not discriminate these juveniles when they get out of prison.
He said there were currently 470 juveniles in prison waiting for their cases to be heard in court.
"I hope these cases can be expedited so that the juveniles won't waste their years away in prison."
However, Wee said there was no one party to blame for the delay in cases.
"Sometimes it could be a backlog of cases, but there are times where parents don't cooperate or other agencies don't submit reports immediately."
He said now that education in prison had become formal, many juveniles would feel like they were really in school.
When asked who would pay for the school fees of the students in prison, Wee said that was the least of the ministry's worries.
"I will submit a proposal to waive the school fees and I don't think that would be a problem at all."
He said this was the first time in history that the jails had produced university students.
The New Straits Times Online: 22 Mei 2008