By Margaret Lipenga
Zomba, November 16, Mana: DVV International in collaboration with Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) has launched Adult Learning and Education (ALE) in prisons with the aim to equipping inmates with hard and soft skills that will enable them to sustain themselves after being released from prison.
The Programme that was launched on Saturday at Zomba Central Prison in Zomba District targets inmates aged 18 and above and among others, these prisoners would be trained in carpentry, tailoring and barbering.
DVV International’s Southern Africa Regional Director, David Harrington said the programme has been developed from DVV International’s rich experience of implementing similar projects in many other western countries.
He said the skills learnt would not be an answer to all problems that released inmates face when they are back in the society but rather assist them sustains their stay and lives.
“Education is power. You might be outside the prison but if you are illiterate, then you are in prison because you cannot explore any field that requires knowledge, skills and experience. In this project, we are implementing programmes that inmates can sustain themselves.
“Through the carpentry workshops, tailoring and barbershops, inmates stand a chance to generate income for their survival,” Harrington said.
Executive Director for CHREAA, Victor Mhango said his organization partnered with DVV International to increase the number of inmates to benefit from the programme since CHREA was implementing similar programme.
“CHREAA has been working with Malawi Prisons Service for quite some time now and apart from offering training skills we also do criminal justice where we facilitate releases of inmates.
“Through our work in prisons we realized that many of the released offenders choose to come back to prison mainly because they do not have anything to do outside the prison.
“The core duty of prisons is to reform offenders but Malawi Prisons Service does not have the capacity to have reformatory programs because they receive very little funding from the Malawi government and, our coming in, we are hopeful would help a lot,” he said.
Mhango has urged government to give enough funding to prison to enhance reformatory programmes.
“We are all potential offenders; we can all come in conflict with the law so the government has to consider making our prisons to be reformatory centers. Most inmates are adults who can manage to farm and feed all prisons, hospitals and even other departments like it was happening in the 1980s. Government must therefore, change its way of doing things and put to use the manpower in prisons by enhancing reformatory programmes,’’ he added.
Malawi Prisons Service Commissioner for Administration, Densio Makumba hailed the two organizations for the support which would drastically change lives of many inmates.
He said currently, there are over 9,000 convicted inmates in the country but because of lack of funding only 13 percent of them are involved in skills development programmes.
“I would like to appeal to other stakeholders and well-wishers to emulate what DVV International and CHREAA are doing in trying to equip inmates with different skills.
“As a prison service we would love to see more inmates being trained in various skills while in prison so that when they go out, they should have something to do than thinking of committing other offences just because they cannot sustain life out there,” Makumba pleaded.
DVV International and CHREAA have for the past two years been developing Adult Learning Education programmes targeting prisons across the world including Malawi.