Inmates at Nkhotakota Prison are learning technical skills that will help them to live an independent life after serving their jail terms.
In an interview with Malawi24, Nkhotakota Prison spokesperson Cosmas Meja said many Malawians perceive that prisons are made to punish criminals which is contrary to the mission of Malawi Prison Services.
“It is a general belief by many Malawians that law breakers are sent to prison to earn awards of hard punishments for various offences committed in the society.
“However, the tune differs with Malawi prisons’ mission statement which mainly focuses on provision of safe human custody and rehabilitation of offenders,” Meja told Malawi24.
He said it is for this reason that prisoners at Nkhotakota have intensified on vocational training at Nkhotakota Youth Organization which offers technical skills such as electrical installation and carpentry.
Malawi24 also caught up with Nkhotakota prison officer in-charge superintendent Peterkins Nsini who said that knowledge acquired at technical school empowers inmates both socially and economically mainly after completion of their jail terms.
“The facility is benefiting a lot in maintenance of minor electrical related faults, hence done by our own well trained inmates”, he said.
However, Nsini pointed out insufficient funding and congestion as some of the main challenges that hampers the smooth running of rehabilitation programs at the institution.
He further expressed worry over indefinite stopping of education support by the Civil Society Education Coalition (CISEC), a non-governmental organization which promotes access to justice and education.
“This has negatively affected inmates who enrolled in primary and secondary education programs at the institution,” he worried.
Paul Chosadziwa, a convict serving 3 years sentence who has undergone the training told Malawi24 that he is now an electrician who sings a new song of his life.
“Stealing was my daily business since I had nothing tangible to do to feed my family but now I have been empowered economically since I will be eating food of my hands,” he said.
Chosadziwa who has just finished the National Trade Test Examination in Electrical Installation said the skills learnt will help him to open a new chapter in his life after serving his jail term.
He however, advised people in Malawi to avoid having negative attitude towards ex-prisoners.
Among the courses offered to inmates are electrical installation, carpentry and metal fabrication.