Indeed, education is freedom and freedom is transformative.
The College of Education Behind Bars (CEBB), a program conceived through a shared vision of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP), Social Entrepreneurship Technology and Business Institute Foundation Inc. (SETBIFI), and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to transform lives of Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) through education, is one of the winners of the Category A: Outstanding Government Program/Project of the CY 2022 Davao Region Excellence Awards in Project Implementation and Monitoring (DREAPIM).
The award was conferred during the First Quarter CY 2023 RDC XI Meeting on March 24, 2023, at Don Paco Rocamora Golf Clubhouse, Mati Aero Tourism Park, Mati Airport, Mati City.
DREAPIM is implemented by the National Economic Development Authority- Regional Development Council (NEDA-RDC) XI, through the Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) XI. It aims to recognize the exemplary program/project implemented by government agencies that support Davao Region’s development thrusts and priorities; and recognize the contribution of Local Project Monitoring Committees (LPMCs) in project facilitation, particularly in the monitoring of programs and projects under their jurisdictions.
Other winners of the said award for Category A were Adopt-an-Estero/Waterbody Program by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) XI; Padada RIS Rehabilitation of Existing Main Dam and Concreting of Canal by National Irrigation Administration (NIA) XI; Grassroots Innovation for Inclusive Development (GRIND) by Department of Science and Technology (DOST) XI with cooperatives agencies; Two-Storey Radiotherapy Facility (Bunker) and Medical Cyclotron and Molecular Imaging Facility by Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC); Food Basket of Joy Project by Department of Education (DepEd) XI- Schools Division of Panabo City; Road towards Prosperity for the Indigenous People’s Community by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) XI- Davao Oriental- 1st District Engineering Office; and Comprehensive Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools (WinS) Program- Menstrual Hygiene Management Project by Batobato Central Elementary School/DepEd XI- Schools Division of Davao Oriental.
CEBB as a transformative program
CEBB, being the first of its kind in the region, the country, and in Asia, responds to the call for participation of the Ambisyon 2040- a collective twenty-five-year long-term vision for the Philippines designed to ensure the realization of a Matatag, Maginhawa at Panatag na Buhay of all Filipinos by 2040; and answers to the vision of the Davao Regional Development Plan (DRDP) Midterm Update 2017-2022 to frame the inclusive growth, high-trust and resilient society, and a competitive economy for the Davao Region.
Moreover, the CEBB program exemplifies how education can transform an individual despite being a PDL. The DREAMPIM entry states that “education forms new experiences and transforms lives into committed and productive members of society. Academic courses are proven to be effective rehabilitative techniques only to the extent that these courses allow the PDLs to express themselves and sublimate antisocial tendencies.”
CEBB helps PDLs overcome the handicaps posed by personal, economic, social, and civic deficiencies by offering a quality college education and rehabilitation program that (1) improves their critical marketable skills, (2) equips them with an in-jail education that benefits them, and their communities, (3) introduce work and livelihood programs for transition, re-entry, and ready to work with alternative productive ventures, (4) develop moral and values foundation, and (5) promotes peace and development to communities.
SETBIFI President Dr. Aland D. Mizell, with the support of the SETBIFI Vice President Atty. Susan P. Cariaga directly supervises the overall management of the CEBB project. The USeP President, Dr. Lourdes C. Generalao, through the USeP Coordinator, provides and manages the CEBB faculty and takes charge of the curriculum based on the final curriculum designed by the SETBIFI after a comprehensive consultation with the USeP. USeP takes responsibility for the records of the students and the conferment of degrees earned.
As for its course of development, CEBB was piloted in 2016 with the construction of the campus inside the Davao City Jail started in January to August 2017. The first batch of graduates was virtually conferred with a degree in 2020. CEBB was expanded to Davao Prison Penal Farm (DPPF) with the construction of a campus in 2018. CEBB will be crafting legislation to support its national application by 2023, full integration into a University by 2025; and aims for full national adoption and implementation by 2030.
CEBB is a product of a non-government organization (NGO) partnering and collaborating with various government instrumentalities to create a more concrete solution to the country’s looming and understudied problem. More than that, CEBB is a proven criminal justice model which also aligns with the vision of USeP which is to transform communities in the ASEAN and beyond.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Aristeo C. Salapa