Manawatū Prison literacy program prepares inmates for the job market

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At Manawatū Prison there are opportunities to work and acquire skills in building construction, related trades and infrastructure works.

David Unwin / Tips

At Manawatū Prison there are opportunities to work and acquire skills in building construction, related trades and infrastructure works.

Over 50 percent of inmates have only literacy and numeracy levels in primary school.

As of July 9, the prison population was 8,252 and the total population of Manawatū Prison was 233 inmates.

The Department of Corrections estimates that 57 percent of inmates have literacy and numeracy levels below NCEA level 1, which corresponds to the first year of secondary school, and 66 percent have no formal qualifications.

Manawatū Prison Learning and Intervention Officer Tracy Murphy said literacy programs were important because they gave inmates the opportunity to learn something new and set goals for themselves. the future.

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She said some men might have a long-term goal of being a businessman or working for themselves, and education programs have taught them the skills to achieve that.

The programs broke the cycle of illiteracy and some of them found them to be good at something they never expected or had never tried.

“Many of them left school at a young age, and many were the class clowns or thought they were never listened to.”

She said it gave the prisoners a taste of what they were capable of and prepared them for the job.

Department of Corrections Director of Education Programs Melissa Nielsen said before entering prison many people were unemployed, lived transient lifestyles and had low levels of education.

“This means that the majority of inmates face significant to severe literacy and numeracy problems in their day-to-day lives. “

Nielson said the prison provided educational opportunities for people, ranging from intensive reading and numeracy support to higher-level qualifications.

She said there were 59 education tutors who worked one-on-one with people to understand their strengths, accomplishments and goals.

During fiscal years 2019 and 2020, 1,263 incarcerated people received intensive reading and numeracy support.

It was for inmates with the highest needs and at levels one and two of the benchmarks.

Level one was elementary school level or below, and people in level two functioned at the level of an 8th grade student or 12 year old child.

Nielson said the program was delivered on site, primarily by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and learners received up to 100 hours of instruction.

At Manawatū Prison, more than 50% of learners in the past year have been referred to the intensive literacy and numeracy program.

There were opportunities for inmates to work and gain skills in building construction and related trades, infrastructure works, and a vocational pathway in manufacturing and technology at Manawatū Prison.

During the past fiscal year, a total of 1,655 people in prison obtained more than 2,300 diplomas. This includes almost 150 university-level certificates, diplomas or qualifications in the process of being obtained.

More than 1000 inmates have received vocational education certificates.


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