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Anne Tolley

21 February, 2013

Increase in prisoner education to reduce crime

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley has announced that two thousand prisoners are to be enrolled in an education programme leading to NCEA qualifications over the next two years, as a result of a new partnership between Corrections and the Open Polytechnic.

The partnership will help Corrections reach its Better Public Service target of a reduction in reoffending of 25 per cent, with 18,500 fewer victims of crime, each year by 2017.

Offenders will receive two hours of coaching a week on top of eight hours of distance learning, as part of the “Get ahead with NCEA” programme, and will be able to study for an Open Polytechnic Certificate in Career and Self Development, a National Certificate in Employment Skills, a Certificate in Work and Life Skills, and NCEA Levels 1 and 2.

“We know that a lack of education is a major driver of crime,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Education and qualifications are powerful tools in helping steer offenders away from criminal activity, which leads to fewer victims of crime and safe communities.

“The reality is that around 90 per cent of prisoners can’t read or write properly. Most will be released back into our communities, but while they are inside prison they are the ultimate captive audience.

“If we can give them access to an education while inside the wire, or just after release into the community, they can learn literacy and numeracy skills and earn qualifications, which will help them hold down jobs and make a positive contribution to society, instead of returning to crime.

“To help reduce reoffending, the National-led Government is investing in huge increases in drug and alcohol programmes, job skills and training opportunities, and support in getting an all-important education.

“Last year 3,000 prisoners were involved in education programmes, but we are committed to doing much more.

“If we can educate them, train them, and increase their chances of employment, offenders can turn their lives around and stay away from crime – and that will be a great result for our communities.”

The new programme gets underway this month, with a thousand prisoners and community offender taking part each year in 2013 and 2014, and will be closely monitored to ensure it is effective.