The Government of Uruguay Tuesday launched an education plan to reverse the large number of prison inmates who are unable to read and write in this day and age, Interior Minister Luis Heber announced.
The alarming numbers of inmates in that situation has led authorities to come up with this new project, which -they hope- will help convicted felons find a place within society once released and avoid the vicious circle of crime and incarceration.
The National Education Plan in Prisons is the result of joint work between Heber and Education Minister Pablo da Silveira.
Da Silveira explained the new initiative was based on the last Budget Law passed in 2020, and it seeks to give a framework of strategic planning to pre-existing efforts, although there were already a sizeable amount of resources and people committed to educational plans in prisons nationwide.
On the other hand, Heber pointed out that only 4,000 of the 14,000 inmates within the Uruguayan prison system were currently receiving some education, whether formal or otherwise and hence the need to increase the Government's efforts in that regard.
“The tool of education is, perhaps, the most important thing so that a person who has diverted from his course can reintegrate into society once he is released,” Heber stressed. He added the Government was focused on eradicating the vicious circle.
Education Director Gonzalo Baroni said that illiteracy in prisons was alarming, while 11% of inmates said they could not write, 6% could not read and 23.5% have not finished elementary school which is mandatory since 2008.
Tuesday's announcement came a few weeks after opposition Broad Front (Frente Amplio - FA) lawmakers had demanded Heber's dismissal or resignation due to the critical prison situation nationwide after the minister had admitted before Congress in a marathon session that human rights were being violated.
At the time, the FA, a left-wing coalition that ruled Uruguay between 2005 and 2020, claimed Heber had given inaccurate, confusing and contradictory information and called for “a change of course in security policies and the resignation of the Interior Minister.”