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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Minor offenders to work toward associate degrees

Some 22 minor offenders from the Ponce and Villalba social treatment centers will begin associate degree studies next week as a result of an agreement between the island departments of Education and Correction & Rehabilitation.

By John McPhaul

Some 22 minor offenders from the Ponce and Villalba social treatment centers will begin post-secondary associate degree studies next week at the Technological Institutes of Puerto Rico, under the occupational and technical assistant secretary of the Department of Education (DE).

The initiative is made possible by an agreement signed Tuesday between the DE and the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (DCR) that determines educational services in the island’s social treatment centers.

“With this agreement we offer our minors and the correctional population the opportunity to begin university studies offered by the DE, complete their rehabilitation phase and enter the workforce,” DCR Secretary Ana Escobar Pabón said in a written statement.

Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés said education “is the key to success and achieving this agreement so that young people from institutions have the resources at hand to educate themselves and improve themselves is a great step forward.”

“We trust that this project will be successful and can be extended to more adults interested in improving themselves and being productive for society.”

Minors who meet the admission requirements of the Technological Institute will start in courses such as business administration, accounting, nursing, computer systems, electronics and mechanics, among others.

Participants will not have to pay for their studies and will enroll in general basic courses. After graduation, they will continue their studies in the community. The courses start in the distance modality and later in a hybrid fashion.

Through another collaborative agreement, meanwhile, the responsibilities between both agencies regarding academic, vocational and special education services to the population of adults and minors were established.

The academic services that will be offered in the correctional institutions will be under the jurisdiction of the DE, which will provide educational materials and equipment. For its part, the DCR will provide the corresponding spaces for the offering of educational services in correctional schools, administrative offices, and academic, special education and vocational rooms, according to the composition of each correctional institution and social treatment center. It will also provide the educational services staff with the following services: access to electricity, internet, drinking water service, toilets and cleaning materials. In turn, training required by the DCR for DE personnel will be provided.

The agreement will in turn allow the establishment of educational laboratories (Thinking Labs) aimed at promoting critical thinking.

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