The Workforce Development Authority (WDA) and Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) on Wednesday signed a deal aimed at advancing Technical and Vocational Education and Training among inmates at correctional facilities.
Officials said three vocational training centres have already been established in correctional facilities of Huye, Rwamagana and Musanze districts. There are more than 53,000 inmates in the country’s correctional facilities, but participation in the training is optional.
For a form of education that has been prioritised as the country pushes its blueprint of Vision 2020 and second Economic Development and Poverty Eradication Strategy, this is not the correct approach. Make TVET compulsory in correctional facilities. True, there are resource constraints that could curtail WDA and RCS dreams of providing the vital skills training to inmates at the moment, but progressively, it is a viable effort.
The image of prisons world over are those of brutality. People consider it a place where convicts are taken to be punished for their crimes. The mind of the layman formulates flogging, denial of basic rights, forced labour, among others, as some of the punishments inmates have to undergo. Even when these facilities are named ‘correctional’, the public continues to believe otherwise.
It is time RCS furthers its mandate of ensuring inmates are ‘corrected’ and shaped into law abiding citizens who serve the common good. What better way to do this than with TVET?
With technical training, when the convicts complete their terms, they return to their communities with skills that they can use to better serve both themselves and the communities. This also helps avoid recidivism — a relapse into criminal behaviour, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime.
Of course, there is no denying that while serving their time, inmates engage in communal works. With technical and vocational skills, their input would be significant. For RCS and the taxpayer, that is like killing two birds with one stone.