Media statement of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, Advocate (MP) on the official release of 2014 offender Grade 12 examination results at Goodwood Correctional Centre in the Western Cape
“On Monday 5 January 2015, the nation joined hands in congratulating learners who have passed grade 12 while encouraging those who did not do well. This is evidence that education is our number one priority in South Africa, as we strive to realize the ideals of a prosperous nation as outlined in the National Development Plan.
To realize our ambitions, we dare not neglect the untapped potential of the approximately 116,000 sentenced offenders, in our country’s 243 correctional centres, in our contribution to development and public safety.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has placed education, and training, at the centre of its rehabilitation agenda. This paradigm is aimed at eliminating illiteracy, under qualifications as well as the absence of critical technical skills, and competencies, required for employment or self-employment.
From 2009 to date, more than 108,321 inmates participated in formal education programmes. From April 2013, it is compulsory for every inmate, without a qualification equivalent to Grade 9, to complete Adult Education and Training (AET) level 1 to 4. Offenders are also being trained as Literacy Facilitators, to teach functionally, and totally, illiterate offenders to read, write, spell and study.
Education, and training, programmes are just some of the tools being used to activate the offender rehabilitation process. To guide the Department in becoming an offender rehabilitation-centred institution, the White Paper on Corrections, approved by Cabinet, is being implemented.
Certain objectives, against which the Department should be measured, are set out in the White Paper. Over the years, DCS has not only recorded a satisfactory pass rate among offenders writing educational examinations but there has also been an increase in the number of offenders participating in vocational training, and occupational skills, programmes.
In this regard:
DCS increased the number of full-time correctional centre schools from one in 2009 to fourteen in 2014.
In Grade 12, the overall pass rate has increased from 58.8% in 2013 to 68.9 % in 2014 with an all-time record of one hundred and eighty five (185) offenders sitting for the examinations (both full time and part time)
What is more remarkable is the improvement in achievement for the following schools whose results have improved from 2013 to 2014 as reflected hereunder:
Name of school
Emtonjeni Youth Centre
Vuselela Learning Centre
St Albans School
Usethuberni Youth School
In the 2014 National Senior Certificate Examinations, inmates achieved 24 subject distinctions. 21 distinctions are from Usethubeni Youth Centre in Durban and three are from Vuselela Learning Centre in the LMN Region
In 2013, the top correctional centre was Umlalati Learning Centre in Barberton which achieved a 100 % rate and for 2014, the top school isEmtonjeni Youth Centre in Baviaanspoort, Gauteng, which achieved a 100% pass rate.
The top 5 performing schools have recorded an average pass rate of 83.63 % as per the table hereunder:
Name of school % pass rate achieved
Emtonjeni Youth Centre 100%
St Albans School 83.33%
Umlalati Learning Centre 83.33%
Usethuberni Youth School 76.47%
Vuselela Learning Centre 75%
Average Pass Rate 83.63%
The top inmates for 2014 are:
1. Gumede Njabulo (Usethubeni Youth Centre)
2. Maphumulo Sbonelo (Usethubeni Youth Centre)
3. Dube Michael (Vuselela Learning Centre)
4. Ngcongwane Sampie (Vuselela Learning Centre)
5. Sokhabase Siyabonga (Usethubeni)
We congratulate our offenders as you hold the key to a brighter future. We also want to commend those youth in our correctional centres who are grabbing education opportunities with both hands. Our education intervention programmes were strengthened by the introduction of a compulsory education policy in 2012, targeting youth up to the age of 25.
We introduced a compulsory education policy, to provide a carrot and stick approach, in order to attract, and push, offenders to enlist for education programmes. One of the challenges identified include the fact that approximately 35,000 offenders do not even have a grade nine qualification, while over 5,000 were completely illiterate – unable to read, write or count.
In the last financial year (2013/14), DCS spent R686, 714,000 on offenderdevelopment. Offenders are currently benefitting in terms of skills through the National Skills Fund. We are working closely with the Directorate: Facilities Planning and Development to address our infrastructural needs over the next three years. We are also working on strengthening relations with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) of South Africa.
We have made considerable progress in setting up online services, within our correctional centres, for inmates who wish to pursue distance education with various institutions of higher learning, including the University of South Africa (UNISA).
Over the past two years (2012 to 2014), 1,482 inmates registered with UNISA. The latest development in this regard is that we are busy concluding a partnership with UNISA, to enable correctional centre students to have internet access. This will enable offenders to connect directly to UNISA online, and access all services available to their students anywhere.
The internet connectivity will be funded by DCS, including the purchasing of laptop trolleys, which can hold up to 32 laptops each, enabling every offender student to have their own laptop for the duration of their studies with UNISA. We are working towards ensuring that this project will be up, and running, for the 2015 academic year. However, it must be noted that this connectivity will in no way breach security.
Universities, and governments, must not lose sight of the higher education needs of the world’s 10 million detained people. Access to education should be improved, and technology harnessed, to deliver cost-effective, quality, programmes, that will enhance an offender’s chances of rehabilitation, employment and reintegration into society.
Education is an important element for re-entry into society, impacting on both post-release employment and re-offending. Enabling offenders to have the skills that will make them attractive to employers, so that they can find, and keep, jobs on release or whilst serving a community sentence and become an asset rather than a burden to society, makes complete sense.
In conclusion, safety and security are directly related to socio-economic development and equality. A safe, and secure, country encourages economic growth and transformation, by providing an environment conducive to employment creation, improved education and health outcomes and strengthened social cohesion.
To this end, offenders must give back to communities and demonstrate remorse for crimes committed. Therefore, I have directed that each of the country’s 243 correctional centres adopt at least one school in their community.
As schools commence their first term for 2015 next week, more than 300 schools, across the country, will benefit from offender labour as offenders are busy refurbishing schools, establishing school gardens, painting, cutting the grass and trees, clearing bushes and cleaning yards.
As I wish you a productive year ahead, let me quote the words of our founding President, the late Nelson Mandela when he said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
During the question and answer session Minister Masutha said every effort is taken to mainstream victims in the administration of corrections and in managing offender life cycle. He said the Department is working with partners in the criminal justice system to address the challenges posed by criminal records on ex-offenders’ social reintegration and employment chances.
Responding to questions on female offender matriculants, Chief Deputy Commissioner of Incarceration and Corrections Mr James Smalberger said women constitute just 2% of 116 000 sentenced offenders nationally and currently have no full time school.
He said plans were afoot for the establishment of a single centre for women with a full time school. Currently female offenders are studying part time and statistics of their performance will be announced around May 2015.
He said Correctional Services has entered into partnerships with NSFAS and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to assist those wishing to pursue their studies beyond matric with funding. Offenders are required to cover their own education costs beyond matric. He said families, private sector and other social partners are assisting with funding further education and training beyond matric.
Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga
Cell: 083 641 8141
Cell: 076 062 2180
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS