MANILA— Learning has now become more convenient for hundreds of detainees at the Manila City Jail after a school building recently opened at the facility.
The three-story building, which opened in November, houses three classrooms that can each cater to about 60 detainees. It also has a multi-purpose hall and an office.
"Napakahalaga [nitong building] kasi magiging centralized na 'yong pagtuturo," Jail Insp. Nelmar Malimata, head of the city jail's community relations service, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News on Tuesday.
(This building is important because the teaching will now become centralized.)
Prior to the building's construction, teachers had to go around the city jail's dormitories, which previously housed classrooms for detainees, Malimata said.
The Manila City government funded construction of the P45-million facility, which began in 2019.
Of the 4,500 detainees at the Manila City Jail, 1,232 are enrolled in high school while 517 are at the elementary level. They are taught under the Department of Education's Alternative Learning System (ALS).
Malimata said jail officers who have teaching backgrounds and detainees who finished college currently serve as "instructional managers" in the school since the continued threat of COVID-19 prohibits ALS teachers from going to the facility to hold face-to-face classes.
This is not the first time that a physical structure dedicated to detainees' education was erected within jail premises, said Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Spokesperson Xavier Solda.
Solda could not immediately say how many jails have school buildings but he stressed that all BJMP facilities have areas for the education activities of detainees.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lauded the construction of the building in Manila, saying it was in line with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Under the rules, authorities are encouraged to offer education to detainees, which would help them reintegrate into society upon release.
In a statement, the CHR said it hoped more correctional centers would establish learning facilities.
"Providing PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) an opportunity to learn and/or continue their studies gives them sense of purpose. It also contributes to their rehabilitation, growth, and prevents recidivism or relapsing into criminal behavior," it said.