On 26th November 2021, 28 inmates at Zomba Central Prison graduated in vocational courses. The male inmates acquired skills in carpentry and joinery, barbering, tailoring and designing which will help them engage in income-generating activities when they go back home after serving their prison sentences.

The courses were provided under the Adult Learning and Education (ALE) in Prisons pilot programme which Malawi Prisons Service (MPS) is implementing in partnership with DVV International and the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA). Ten inmates have acquired carpentry and joinery skills while eight have been trained in barbering. Nine inmates have graduated in tailoring and designing.

The main objective of this program is to help reduce recidivism through education. This is based on the fact that many ex-prisoners recommit crimes due to poverty and lack of skills to use for income generation. Therefore, when they have skills like these, the inmates will be able to engage in income-generating activities to support themselves, thereby avoiding reoffending.

This ceremony was attended by the Prisons Commissioner, the DVV director and other staff members and also the Executive Director of CHREAA and members of staff. CHREAA Executive Director Victor Mhango said that “when the ex-prisoners engage in income generating activities such as carpentry, tailoring or barbering, the chances will be reduced that they will commit a crime again. The need for education in prisons is therefore enormous.”

The project also offers psychosocial counselling to inmates as part of reformation, community re-integration and addressing the complex needs of the inmates. The psychosocial counselling is helping a lot on mindset change and will reduce the rate of recidivism. The inmates recommended that this programme should continue because it has helped them to change for the better and they promised that after serving their sentences, they will be productive citizens. They also noted that they now see things differently than used to before the training.

Succes story: George Panyete Mikeyasi said although he missed out on basic education, he has every reason to smile as he will be able to earn a living using his newly-acquired barbering skills. He told the journalists at the sidelines of the graduation ceremony that he will open a barbershop in his community when he leaves prison. “Before I was sentenced to prison, I had no skill that could help me earn money. But now I am happy that I have skills in barbering. The barbershop will enable me to support myself and relatives.