Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola says inmates must be equipped with skills that will make them employable and enable them to create opportunities for themselves and their respective communities.
“No correctional centre should ever breed hardened criminals who, upon their release, terrorise communities with their newly acquired sophisticated and most brutal acts of criminality.
“Our centres should not be breeding grounds for criminals but rehabilitated inmates who can be boilermakers, plumbers, carpenters and farmers,” Lamola said.
Announcing the inmates 2020 Matric results on Thursday, Lamola said education is an effective rehabilitation tool.
The Minister said the department has created a conducive environment for learning in all correctional centres.
“Education is a fundamental pillar of our correctional system. In our centres, education must always be structured and used to equip inmates to build social capital so as to improve their well-being whilst incarcerated, and post-incarceration in order to realise a second chance in life,” Lamola said.
The Minister said they have accepted that COVID-19 has changed the way of life and introduced a new normal in daily routines, and that his department has adapted to the new normal.
“One of the approaches we implemented and intensified was access to online tutoring and learning by inmates. Most of the inmates responded positively to this approach.
“They confronted significant challenges and COVID-19 could not hinder their desire to do well in their studies.
“The education of inmates was also affected and faced various challenges when our country was placed under lockdown in March 2020. This disrupted our educational programmes,” Lamola said.
In preparation for the 2020 school year, the department ensured that each correctional centre school drew up a curriculum recovery plan to make up for the lost time.
“This also meant that inmates needed to complete the majority of related activities in their cells. What also assisted us were the educational programmes that the Department of Basic Education broadcasted on television and radio stations, which inmates had access to.
“As DCS, we are gearing our systems towards online education offerings as classroom teaching and learning continue to experience disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Relevant equipment and other tools are being procured in order for inmates to be able to access online digital content. These resources will be used by offenders to access curriculum content, as well as to view lessons on relevant platforms,” Lamola said.
For two years in succession, Correctional Services has registered 160 students.
For the past five years, the inmate matric pass rate has been as follows:
In 2015 – 72.9% pass rate; 2016 – 72.1%; 2017 – 76.7%; 2018 – 77.3% and in 2019 – 82.6%.
For the 2020 academic year, full-time learners achieved a pass rate of 86.3%.
When inclusive of part-time learners, the pass rate at correctional centre schools is 81.3%.
The best performing learner is Lwazi Chamane from Usethubeni Youth under the Durban Management Area in Kwa-Zulu Natal, with an average of 80.6% and four distinctions in IsiZulu, Life Orientation, History and Tourism.
USethubeni registered 19 inmates and all 19 achieved Bachelor passes.