WelTec course more than just skills

Kapi-Mana News - - EDUCATION -

A brick and block­lay­ing course at Rimu­taka Prison has been chang­ing lives.

Thir­teen in­mates have grad­u­ated from WelTec’s cer­tifi­cate in brick and block­lay­ing.

Alan Peck, ex­ec­u­tive dean of the fac­ulty of trades and technology at WelTec, is a strong ad­vo­cate of the pro­gramme.

‘‘ The brick­lay­ing pro­gramme is a great ex­am­ple of the good work WelTec is do­ing in­side the wire,’’ he said.

‘‘Part of a Depart­ment of Corrections ini­tia­tive to re­duce re­cidi­vism, WelTec has five fully op­er­a­tional work­shops in­side the prison teach­ing a range of brick­lay­ing, paint­ing, car­pen­try and au­to­mo­tive pro­grammes.’’

The course, in con­junc­tion with one in small mo­tors, was the first pro­gramme to be of­fered in the high-se­cu­rity area, and was de­vel­oped based on the highly suc­cess­ful pro­grammes WelTec is of­fer­ing in the low and medium-se­cu­rity ar­eas.

‘‘While the phys­i­cal re­sults are im­pres­sive, there are other less tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits,’’ Mr Peck said.

‘‘For many stu­dents, this is the first time any­one has shown an in­ter­est in them. For many, it is the first time they have worked in a team en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘And for most, their WelTec cer­tifi­cate is the first qual­i­fi­ca­tion they have ever had. ‘‘Our staff are achiev­ing amaz­ing things.’’ Greg Sin­den, one of WelTec’s tu­tors, grasped the op­por­tu­nity to teach in the high-se­cu­rity unit. Ini­tially, he was un­sure what he would face in the high-se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment, but quickly found the abil­ity to trust the in­mates, and to pull back and al­low them to cre­ate.

‘‘What they pro­duced re­ally blew me away,’’ he said.

‘‘The stan­dard of work they pro­duced af­ter only 17 weeks was ex­tremely high.’’

The in­mates be­gan by de­vel­op­ing core skills, then worked in groups to de­velop a hard land­scape gar­den.

A key el­e­ment of the course was giv­ing in­mates’ cre­ativ­ity free rein. They were re­spon­si­ble for the devel­op­ment of sketches, plans and full im­ple­men­ta­tion of their de­sign.

Mr Sin­den found the in­mates en­thu­si­as­tic and easy to teach.

‘‘They don’t face the same ob­sta­cles or po­ten­tial dis­trac­tions which our stu­dents on cam­pus work around,’’ he said.

‘‘It was great to work with peo­ple who were mo­ti­vated to learn and de­velop their abil­i­ties.’’

Mr Sin­den said a key to suc­cess was es­tab­lish­ing a rou­tine and stan­dard of work.

‘‘If the task was not done cor­rectly it was pulled down and the stu­dent had to start again.

‘‘While this was frus­trat­ing for stu­dents, feed­back was they were pleased they were be­ing taught by some­one who had high stan­dards and didn’t just al­low them to do what they wanted.

‘‘The guards’ feed­back to me was that the changes within the cell­block were un­be­liev­able.

‘‘The stu­dents were much more set­tled, were not caus­ing any prob­lems and were nicer to talk to. It clearly demon­strated the dif­fer­ence be­ing in­volved in some­thing can make, keep­ing pris­on­ers out of trou­ble and mov­ing them for­ward.’’

The in­mates were keen to con­tinue de­vel­op­ing their skills and WelTec is con­sid­er­ing ad­di­tional cour­ses to take their skills to the next level.

Many in­mates would like to be in­volved in the trade, and are keen to learn more or gain an ap­pren­tice­ship or work in brick­lay­ing upon re­lease.

Mr Sin­den is keen to con­tinue his in­volve­ment when the course runs again this year.

‘‘It’s fan­tas­tic to be able to use my knowl­edge and cre­ativ­ity to en­hance the growth of these guys and give them some­thing back, and some­thing that they may have never had in their lives – some­one telling them they have done some­thing good.’’

In­side job: Brick and block­lay­ing in­mates at Rimu­taka Prison de­signed and built this land­scape gar­den.

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