Pretoria: More than 50 book clubs have been established in correctional centres across the country to promote a culture of reading and writing among inmates.
A celebration of World Book Day took place on Wednesday at the Krugersdorp Correctional Centre, where acting National Commissioner Zacharia Modise took part in the festivities.
They were joined by Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi and the Executive Head of the Centre for the Book Mandla Matyumza, who donated books to inmates.
Modise said reading provides invaluable benefits for rehabilitation.
“On behalf of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), I wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Department of Arts and Culture and the Centre for the Book for their wonderful gesture of paying attention to those most in need and vulnerable in our society.
“Your inclusion of inmates … is an embodiment of the ideals that the founding father of our democracy, the late President Nelson Mandela, stood for. It was President Mandela who said that the quality of our development as a nation should be measured by how we treat the weakest and most vulnerable in our midst…” he said.
Modise said educators have been assigned to provide opportunities for 2 150 offenders in writing, publishing, reading, reviewing and providing analysis of books.
“We are working on broadening access for more offenders, as many of them are also learners at our 14 full-time correctional centre schools,” he said.
During International Library Month from 1 – 7 September 2015, the five best book clubs in each of the six DCS regions will compete against each other at the Regional Funda Mzantsi Championships.
The last leg of the championships is scheduled take place from 5 – 7 October 2015 in Cape Town, hosted by the Centre for the Book.
The Funda Mzantsi programme also enhances the language skills of offenders as well as their examination results.
More offenders are being encouraged and inspired to also write books with invaluable benefits to their rehabilitation and preparedness for social reintegration.
“I am proud of the partnership we have established between Arts and Culture, the Centre for the Book and Correctional Services. Since we signed a Memorandum of Understanding for heightened collaboration, we have continued to see tangible results that make a difference where it matters most – improving the lives of the neediest in our society, including offenders, in a manner that effectively breaks the cycle of violence and crime.
“We are on course to build an institution that instils among offenders as well as officials a lifelong reading and learning culture. We urge other institutions of state, labour, the private sector and ordinary citizens to put their hands on deck and to push the transformation and development of our correctional system,” Modise said.
SOURCE: South African Official News