Literacy and education for people in custody


Low literacy can be a key contributor to the root causes of crime. BC Corrections works with local school districts and literacy organizations to help people under supervision make a new start, by teaching them to read, write and learn the skills they need to live independently.

We deliver programs in plain language to ensure people in custody with low literacy understand and benefit fully from our programs.

More than reading and writing

Basic literacy means being able to read and write, but the skills needed to navigate the world successfully go beyond the basics. Full literacy involves:

  • Making use of information in forms, maps, schedules and other documents.
  • Understanding math well enough to balance accounts, calculate tips or review receipts.
  • Solving problems by creating and carrying out a plan.

Through Essential Skills to Success, individuals in custody gain the skills they need to succeed at these types of tasks after they are released from custody.


Education can reduce crime by giving people the skills they need to succeed. BC Corrections partners with local schools to develop and deliver educational programs for people in custody.

The programs help them to:

  • Obtain their high school or high school equivalency diplomas.
  • Earn certificates and accreditation to aid in their future job searches.
  • Prepare for college.

BC Corrections works with its partners to deliver English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. These courses make it easier for immigration detainees and people in custody with limited knowledge of English to integrate into the community.

The Indigenous Studies program helps people with Indigenous ancestry connect with Indigenous cultures in B.C.

Inside-Out University Exchange

We partner with universities to offer post-secondary courses to classes of university students and incarcerated students who learn as peers.

Students in the Inside-Out University Exchange program at Vancouver Island University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University are exposed to a powerful learning experience with the potential to shift attitudes. Together, students take criminology courses at Nanaimo Correctional Centre and Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre, and a variety of courses from astronomy to literature at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre.

The University of Victoria’s Faculty of Humanities brings inside and outside students together for philosophy courses about justice, free will and human nature. This makes philosophy accessible to incarcerated students and encourages UVic students to learn from those with different life perspectives and experiences.