Since 2009, the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) and the Correctional Services Bureau have been cooperating to develop a Prison Outreach Programme to prepare incarcerated individuals for re-entry into society by providing bachelor level courses to enhance their professional knowledge and increase their employment opportunities. The Programme aims to guide and encourage incarcerated/rehabilitated individuals to improve their professional quality to the college level.
To promote and encourage incarcerated individuals to receive higher education, USJ and the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) have recently signed a partnership agreement to award “Outreach Programme – Prison Education Scholarships” to those who have achieved the best results in the first phase of the Programme of USJ, so as to encourage incarcerated individuals to pursue studies in prison.
Currently, USJ is establishing a scholarship scheme for incarcerated individuals with economic difficulties and outstanding academic performance. USJ expects to support incarcerated individuals with outstanding academic performance and students from low-income families by fund raising for scholarships and grants his year. By doing so, the lives of incarcerated individuals and their families can be improved.
The subjects offered by the Programme depend on the course schedule of the Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. Individuals spend six years completing a majority of their social work courses in prison, and a final internship is conducted on campus upon re-entry into the society. Those who complete the whole Programme will be granted a diploma and qualify to work in relevant industries like social services. In this academic year, through the Social Work Community Organizations Programme, USJ has invited Chio LAN Ieng, Director of Community Services of the Macao Federation of Trade Unions, and Hong Wai Tong, Director of Iao Hon Community Center of the Macao Federation of Neighborhood Associations, to share with incarcerated students the current situation of community services provided by social service organisations in Macao, strengthening communication between incarcerated individuals and practitioners and changing the negative and stereotyped image of those incarcerated.
On May, 2022, USJ’s Department of Social Work will assist in organising the “World Social Work Day” in Macao. A drama performed by social work students, “Let’s Work Hard Again – Renewal Service Exchange Session”, aims to help incarcerated individuals out of difficulties faced when they return to society and the ethical issues encountered by social workers providing services. Additionally, representatives from the Correctional Services Bureau, Social Welfare Bureau, rehabilitated individuals, and related service providers are invited to share their views on the topic, so as to promote the development of related services and raise the awareness of the community on renewal services.