The surprising new source of prison education advocacy

Prison education advocacy is coming from an unlikely country: Lebanon.

The country is generally only on America’s radar for its assistance in the conflict against ISIL and a fractured and complex internal political state. But despite the beleaguered state of the nation at the moment, the Minister has seen fit to prioritize the rehabilitation of prison populations.

This past week, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab announced his desire to see complete educational facilities integrated into the nation’s prisons. His comments came on the heels of a recent visit to a woman’s prison where he met women with women in the process of taking the first ever Life Sciences Baccalaureate exam hosted inside a prison. The visit formed part of a widespread initiative by the Minister to examine the state of education across the country.

Like so many of us involved in prison education, Bou Saab has realized how important education is to providing hope to inmates, and fostering their will to make a better life for themselves and their communities upon release. He noted that he would be discussing the building of education facilities within Lebanese prisons with the Minister of the Interior.

If a country as mired in conflict and political gridlock, with one of the most infamous prison systems in the world, can appreciate the role that prison education plays in contributing to a strong social and economic fabric, and prioritize it accordingly, what’s our excuse?

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