Over 150 inmates in the country’s correctional facilities have been registered for the grade twelve final examination, starting on Thursday. This was revealed during the unveiling of the state of readiness for the matric class of 2020 at the Barberton Maximum Prison in Mpumalanga.
49-year-old Jabu Dludlu is one of the 25 inmates who will be writing his Grade 12 examination from the Vuselela learning centre in the Barberton maximum prison. He is the oldest inmate who will be writing the final examination. About 25 of them will be sitting for the final examination including the juveniles at the Umlalati learning centre.
The father of three is doing a life sentence for rape. He has served only six years of his sentence. He started learning in the correctional centre in 2016. According to Dludlu, focusing on his studies keeps him out of trouble inside prison.
“It helps me a lot because I think if I was not a learner, I would be part of the groups that are doing bad things inside the prison but because I am a learner it saves me a lot because I am focusing on my books all the time.”
31-year-old Sifiso Vilakazi, who is also doing a life sentence for kidnapping and murder is looking forward to contributing positively to his community, once he is released.
“When I go out I want to be positive and do something for the community because I see that I have done some wrong things in the past”
Manager for Education and Training at the Barberton prison Thomas Myeni says it takes a lot of effort to get some of the inmates to attend school in prison.
“We are finding difficulties when we are recruiting them because some of them don’t want to go to school, but we have to sit down and explain the importance of education. After sitting down with them and explain all those processes you find that they are willing to attend school but also when it comes to juveniles, it is so difficult because they will tell you that their parents failed to assist them with education.”
The Department of Correctional Services says all 17 correctional facilities are ready. A spokesperson for the Department Singabakho Nxumalo says despite the challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, the inmates are prepared. He says the department adopted a curriculum recovery plan to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
“It’s a slight increase from the 2019 group but the focus now is the quality of the results that we are able to achieve so that we get bachelors, so as a Department it does indicate that we are on the right track. Coronavirus has had a serious effect but the curriculum recovery plan has been executed to the core we at the stage where we say we have done the revision, everything we have to receive support from the Education Department.”
The Department of Correctional Services says inmates are able to study further after the completion of matric through partnerships with Higher Institutions of Learning. The matric class of 2019 in the country’s correctional facilities achieved an 82% pass rate.