The Flinders Foundation Studies Program, a semester-long preparation course for university study, has its first ‘graduates’ from within the South Australian prison system.
Ten serving prisoners (from an initial class of 17) have completed the first intake of the course, which was taught at Mobilong Prison by teachers from Flinders and TAFE SA, with the support of the Department of Correctional Services.
At a ceremony at Mobilong last week, six of the completing students received their certificates from Flinders University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Andrew Parkin.
Professor Parkin congratulated the completers on their sustained efforts.
“The Foundation Program has been offered by Flinders for 30 years and, through our partnership with TAFE SA, has been made more widely available in the community in the past year, including this unique initiative with Mobilong,” Professor Parkin said.
“By providing an alternative method for gaining access to university study, the Foundation Studies Program offers truly transformative opportunities for people who want to alter the course of their lives.”
One of the completing students said that undertaking the course had changed his life.
The course’s principal teacher said the students had been engaged, focused and enthusiastic participants, and that the classroom had “crackled with intensity”.
The initiative to trial some sort of educational engagement with Mobilong Prison came from Professor Mark Halsey in the Flinders Law School; the Foundation Studies Program was then identified as the most appropriate option.
Staff from the University’s Transition Office, Dr Michael X Savvas and Associate Professor Salah Kutieleh, will present a paper on the pilot program, including student feedback, to the Australasian Corrections Education Association (ACEA) conference later this month.
Dr Savvas said that with most education in prison devoted to basic literacy and numeracy, running the Foundation Studies Program at Mobilong had been a radical and successful forward step that showed real potential in assisting prisoners towards reintegrating into society on their release.