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Question

515. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the participation rates of prisoners in education during their sentences by prison; the budget for the provision of such services in 2017 and to date in 2018; the access to education for prisoners on restricted regimes; the number of prisoners completing further or higher education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25098/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I wish to advise the Deputy that from 01 January 2018 to end April 2018, 31.85% of the overall prison population attended the prison education centres. A breakdown by prison is provided in the following table.
Education - Participation Rates

Institution January2018 February2018 March2018 April 2018
Arbour Hill 70.9% 50.0% 52.6% 46.8%
Castlerea 45.5% 33.1% 33.6% 33.8%
Cloverhill 22.9% 19.0% 17.2% 17.1%
Cork 46.0% 38.6% 34.7% 32.9%
Limerick 43.7% 36.5% 33.9% 46.2%
Loughan House 81.7% 59.7% 61.2% 33.9%
Midlands 37.8% 27.4% 25.0% 58.5%
Mountjoy Female 54.0% 39.5% 36.9% 26.5%
Mountjoy Male 19.8% 19.5% 16.7% 18.0%
Mountjoy West 58.1% 42.5% 47.0% 35.9%
Portlaoise 50.2% 44.2% 42.1% 45.7%
Shelton Abbey 55.7% 42.3% 42.6% 49.5%
Wheatfield 23.8% 19.4% 15.2% 19.6%
Average All Prisons 38.8% 30.4% 28.9% 29.3%

The Education budget for 2017 was €1,065m, this covers education fees, materials and equipment. The 2018 budget allocation is €1,265m.
There are currently 57 prisoners completing Open University courses.
I wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes to those in custody that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes can offer purposeful activity to those in custody while serving their sentences, and can encourage them to lead law abiding lives on release.
Prison Management take all reasonable steps to ensure that all prisoners who request access to education are provided with educational support. Education classes are provided to those who are on restricted regimes where possible and all prisoners have access to reading materials, education and art resources on request.