Fulbright scholar in special education to study juvenile corrections schools in South Africa

JosephGagnonJoseph Gagnon, a UF associate professor of special education, will spend seven months conducting research and lecturing at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of the Fulbright Scholar Program. 

Gagnon’s research often focuses on improving the education and literacy of incarcerated youth. In Cape Town, he will study the current educational policies and practices within juvenile corrections schools. 

According to Gagnon, the United States and the Republic of South Africa are first and second in the world with the highest the number of incarcerated youth. But researchers and experts have noted problems in the countries’ education services for these youth, “despite its importance for youth to transition back to school, the community and workforce,” Gagnon said. 

For example, in South African juvenile corrections schools, there is inconsistency in the provision of individualized programming, coursework and vocational education, as well as a lack of important resources needed for education, Gagnon said. 

Gagnon has written or contributed to about 14 different academic publications, in which he identifies characteristics of the United States’ education system for incarcerated youth and evaluated its policies and practices. However, in the Republic of South Africa, “there are far fewer analyses of the juvenile correctional education program,” he said. 

“Clearly, both the United States and Republic of South Africa could benefit from a more in-depth study of their individual systems of juvenile justice education, as well as comparisons across countries, in order to develop and promote effective policies and practices,” Gagnon said. 

Fulbright is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright Scholar Program provides academic opportunities abroad to prominent university faculty and professionals