Prisoners offered new education key
The key to reducing prisoner reoffending rates is education, according to Corrections Minister Anne Tolley.
‘‘The cold, hard reality is that 90 per cent of offenders can’t read or write anywhere near well enough to succeed in modern society,’’ Ms Tolley said on February 21.
She was addressing Open Polytechnic and prison staff, and Arohata Women’s Prison inmates, as she launched a partnership between the Department of Corrections and the Hutt Valley-based polytechnic.
The Get Ahead programme aimed to have 2000 prisoners each year doing self-directed study and 6000 offenders outside prison receiving training leading to stable employment, she said.
The programme will be delivered free of fees for the first three years by the Open Polytechnic, both inside and outside prisons.
Open Polytechnic chief executive Caroline Seelig said the programme would be offered to selected prisoners and would be funded from within the polytechnic’s existing budget.
‘‘Prison case workers select people who they are confident will succeed in the programme,’’ Dr Seelig said.
Participants needed some level of literacy, but not to have got NCEA level-two or higher and have at least six months in prison left to serve.
It would be delivered in a mix of face- to- face contact and distance learning, which enabled participants to move at their own pace, and continue with it when they left prison.
‘‘The benefit of that is that they can move,’’ she said.
Each participant would get two hours of coaching each week and be expected to do eight hours of selfdirected study.
Stay straight: Arohata Women’s Prison case worker Moe Tafili, left with Open Polytechnic chief executive Caroline Seelig and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley at the announcement of a new correspondence course to teach prisoners literacy.