Academic journal article Canadian Review of Social Policy

Look at My Life: Access to Education for the Remand Population in Ontario

Academic journal article Canadian Review of Social Policy

Look at My Life: Access to Education for the Remand Population in Ontario

Article excerpt

Abstract

Relative to other education systems across the world, access to education and the right to education in Canada do not, at first glance, appear to be denied or infringed upon. However, this is not the case for all individuals in Ontario. Despite well-known discrepancies in educational attainment rates between Canada's general population and the incarcerated population, there continues to be a significant need to rectify this discrepancy. Drawing on the theoretical record, it is argued here the lack of formal education programs for individuals on remand in Ontario is a violation of their right to education. Recommendations to create equal access to education for the remand population in Ontario are also presented.

Résumé

S'appuyant sur l'approche théorétique fondée dans les droits humains, l'argument principal de cet article c'est que la manque des programmes éducatif pour les personnes en détension provisoire au Canada est une violation des droits à l'éducation. À l'éxamen de la recherche sur les programmes éducatifs correctionels, les rélations entre les programmes, la récidive, les consequences de la vie et une programme réussi de Toronto, cet article fournis quelques recommendations pour les changements de la politque qui doivent être promulgué afin de remédier à les violations des droits humains qui se déroulent actuellement dans les centres de détention canadienne.

Introduction

Relative to other education systems across the world, access to education and the right to education in Canada do not, at first glance, appear to be denied or infringed upon. In Canada, elementary and secondary schooling are free (tax funded) and readily available to both children and adults. Canada ranks among the top countries in the world in education. In 2009, Canada had the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates (50 percent) in the 25-64 year age group among member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the G7 (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011). Education attainment has been a provincial policy priority in recent years as evidenced by improvement in important indicators of educational attainment levels. Using Statistics Canada data, The Indicators of Well- Being in Canada (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2012) found: 1. a higher percentage of women (72 percent) than men (65 percent) aged 25 to 44 had completed post- secondary school; 2. the percentage of persons 15 years and over without high school diplomas decreased from 37.8 percent in 1990 to 19.5 percent in 2011, following similar trends in an increase in post-secondary certification (9.4 percent increase in college/trade certification and 10.9 percent in university degrees); 3. Canada's dropout rate has declined steadily since 1990/91, reaching a low of 7.8 percent in 2011/12; and 4. the percentage of those aged 20-24 in Canada who were not attending school and had not graduated high school decreased steadily from 1990/91 (16.6 percent) to 2011-2012 (7.8 percent).

Unfortunately, these optimistic statistics are not the reality for a specific segment of Canada's population: the incarcerated. It is well established that Canada's incarcerated population is significantly less formally educated than the general population of Canada (Harris, 2002; Boe, 2005; Correctional Service Canada, 2011). As will be argued throughout this paper, despite this known fact, a specific segment of the incarcerated population, individuals detained in pre-trial custody (remand population), do not have equal and fair access to education.

Drawing on the theoretical framework of human rights and conflict theory, this paper considers lack of educational programs for the remand population as a violation of their right to education and therefore, their human rights. Human rights claims are a way to achieve a pre- determined goal and can be used to change domestic law and the systems in our society (Clapham, 2007). …

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