Updated: Oct 22, 2023 06:21 PM
Looking ahead: curriculum instructor Iman Gibbons, left, gives guidance to two Westgate inmates, alongside BTIA chairman Rick Richardson, far right (Photograph supplied)
Employment prospects for inmates at the island’s three correctional facilities have been given a boost through the introduction of a new training programme.
The Cisco Networking Academy provides a skills-to-jobs curriculum that delivers technology education by fostering collaborations between the public and private sectors and implementing workforce development initiatives.
The Department of Corrections teamed up with the Bermuda Technical Institute Association to get the course up and running and “revolutionise rehabilitation” on the island.
The BTIA, which is an affiliate of Cisco, is providing the course without any cost to the Government.
Rick Richardson, the chairman of the BTIA, said: “In partnering with the ministry and, more specifically, the corrections staff, we can help to fulfil the ultimate goal of providing significant educational opportunities to those who are incarcerated.
“As technologies are changing at breakneck speed, the access to the international courses offered by CNA will provide opportunities and realistic avenues for those persons to continue to progress when they return to society.
“Our association has spent several years advocating for the broad teaching of the trades and, by extension, the STEM curriculum to improve the lives of our young men in particular.
“After several strategic planning sessions with eager corrections personnel and the Commissioner, and with input from those incarcerated, we thought the Cisco online international programme could be one of the components in an enhanced educational programme within the prisons.
“We are pleased to have visionary educator Iman Gibbons, a STEM advocate based in Bermuda, guiding and supporting this curriculum.
“Mr Gibbons brings a diverse skill set that includes data science in biological systems, bilingual communications and critical computational thinking.”
“We are thrilled to embark on this innovative partnership with the Bermuda Technical Institute Association,” said Minister of National Security Michael Weeks, about a partnership offering inmates a chance to gain IT qualifications.
The programme began in September with an introductory course covering CNA basics and computer fundamentals.
Following the introductory module, students can tailor their educational journey, exploring diverse avenues within the Academy, including coding and programming.
Mr Weeks said that education was an important component of rehabilitation.
He said: “By offering Cisco Networking Academy courses, we are equipping inmates with skills that can significantly enhance their prospects of becoming productive citizens upon re-entry to society.
“The Department of Corrections and the BTIA are confident that this collaborative effort will reduce recidivism rates and foster positive change within Bermuda’s correctional system.”