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Johannesburg - More than 11 600 prison inmates are participating in adult education and training (AET) programmes, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Wednesday.
“Prisons are now correctional centres of rehabilitation,” Ndebele said in a statement.
“Offenders are given new hope and encouragement to adopt a lifestyle that will result in a second chance towards becoming ideal citizens.”
He said his department was going all-out to make sure that inmates could become productive citizens on their release.
In April, Ndebele announced the compulsory registration for all inmates without a qualification equivalent to Grade Nine to complete the AET's levels one to four.
“In September, 302 offenders, who completed various education and skills development programmes, graduated at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre,” the minister said.
“This included 49 inmates who participated in the artisan development skills programme and qualified as artisans.”
In the Free State and Northern Cape, 522 inmates graduated in a variety of courses and programmes.
Gcobani Mayoyo, 23, released on parole last month, achieved distinctions in mathematics, biology, economics and business economics, and B symbols in English and Xhosa in his matric examinations. He had a Grade 11 certificate when he was imprisoned.
Another inmate, Shaun Coetzee, held at Dwarsrivier Correctional Centre in the Western Cape, was recently named the AET Best Learner of the Year 2013 by the Western Cape education department.
From November 2012 to April 2013, 5215 offenders were trained in, among others, agriculture, business, construction, food services, computers, and welding.
Last year, more than R66 million was allocated for training offenders in scarce skills, such as welding, plumbing, bricklaying, plastering, electrical, carpentry, and agricultural skills programmes.
On Friday, Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini thanked offenders who helped rebuild the queen's palace in Mahlabathini.