College Education Behind Bars at the Davao City Jail Producing Dean's List Students

A great semester requires great students as much as it requires great teaching. Academics is not only the teaching at the College Education Behind Bars, but there are also recovery programs where students can learn how to deal with their hurts, habits, and hang-ups including but not exclusive to co-dependency, compulsive behavior, drug and alcohol addictions, and other issues. Education Behind Bars at the Davao City Jail can flourish when there are dedicated educators, supporters, and volunteers like Amalia “ Amy” Bandiola Cabusao, Amy is a veteran journalist and staunch promoter of campus and community journalism. She is the Editor in-Chief of the Mindanao Times, the oldest newspaper in Mindanao. She is also a radio program host and a documentary filmmaker. Not content with just writing and publishing community stories, she dedicates her life to building the capacities of young people, especially women, girls, and disadvantage youth. I want to salute Ms. Amy for her selfless contribution to the growth and development of our community and her volunteering as an educator, teaching at College Education Behind Bars. It is easy to think about volunteering in places like churches, food banks, schools, and animal shelters, but some places like the Davao City Jail are overlooked and invisible from the mainstream. Many of us think of jail as a place where people chose to be by becoming involved in illegal activities or committing crimes that brought them there in the first place. We think that they deserve to be there. Even if it is true that people who commit crimes have a debt to pay to their society, it is very important to do our part to help them, guide them, and give them a second chance through rehabilitation programs like College Education Behind Bars. Encouraged to volunteer at the College Behind Bars, Ms. Cabusao is teaching communication, the majority of her class is on the Honors list, and her class also won the debate contest. I asked Amy if she prepares her student to have debates with outside students from other schools. Actually for those who have never been inside the jail or prison, they should understand that all obstacles against the students’ education are very real. Some of the inmate students who once saw themselves as failures have learned that their teachers are not patronizing them, and they began to realize they can do the college work and thrive. Education is a great tool especially when paired with rehabilitation.

Some of the students admit that they wanted to accomplish lots of thing in their lives, but that they finished very few. That is changing. Most of the senior high school students from Davao City Female Jail received Honor certificates from Thompson Christian School. "This is a first step for my future," said one of the students. "I've finally done something good in my life, and that means a lot to me." “This kind of program helps me to discover my potential and believe in myself.” “I don’t think I ever saw potential in myself, and this has given me the confidence that there is a potential in us and in me.” “There are other ways to make a living [besides selling drugs or using the drug]." College Education Behind Bars has more than 100 inmates enrolled in classes now. I would like to congratulate Davao City Female Jail Warden, Rovie Ann Noe Alcantara, for encouraging inmates to do well in the College Education Behind Bars program. I would also like to congratulate newly installed Davao City Male Warden, Presco Manisan, for his new position and express gratitude for his full support for education of the inmates inside the jail.

College Education Behind Bars is helping to rework inmates’ mindsets from their defaulting to a life of crime. With jail overcrowding becoming a real concern in the Philippines, the College Education Behind Bars program incorporated with a stellar recovery program has become an essential solution to an urgent need.

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