09/13/2022 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/13/2022 01:05
Academics, literacy educators, language educators and librarians from CPUT and Department of Correctional Services (DCS) correctional centres throughout the Western Cape convened at the 1st Annual Literacy and Reading Symposium, which was held at Drakenstein Correctional Centre recently.
The symposium, which comprised of four sessions, came as International Literacy Day was being commemorated and thus the objective was to stimulate discussions between educators and library staff. It also provided an opportunity to education and development officials to share knowledge and learn from one another and other literacy specialists.
Dr Christa Thornhill: Assistant Dean, Faculty of Education, Mowbray campus, said literacy was much more than the traditional concept of reading, writing, speaking and counting skills. "Literacy is now understood 'as a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast-changing world".
She added: "This partnership with Drakenstein Correctional Centre to assist Reading and Literacy staff to provide effective and efficient literacy instruction and reading support services to inmates is a wonderful opportunity for the Faculty of Education to make a positive contribution to society and our community.
"Maybe this initiative can in future be extended to other centres."
Andile Nelani, DCS Regional Coordinator: Education and Training, said the Partnership between DCS and CPUT is a strategic partnership, a partnership that explores benefits from different learning contexts for these institutions and the society at large.
Nelani added that the symposium collaboration of these two institutions was amazingly well organised and pitched at a very high level of relevant discussion topics for the benefit of both these institutions. "The highlights of the day were the demonstration of how technology can build bridges through an intercontinental live interaction of people. The cherry on top was the interest that our international partners demonstrated through their physical presence in our first symposium.
"This partnership empowered DCS educators, and librarians to understand reading and literacy in a high level and how that should reshape their planning, provisioning and management of offender education and training for quality rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back into the community as not only law abiding citizens but socially responsible global citizens," he said.
DCS Area Coordinator, Rehabilitation and Care, Hylton Jumaats, said: "Working on this project allowed us to feel and understand the heartbeat of partners. This can bolster the prospects of a long and happy marriage." Jumaats added that as future partners, DCS and CPUT were demonstrating their sincerity to deliver on their mandate to create the platforms for social cohesion.
Jacqueline Scheepers-Searle, Manager: Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Unit, said literacy was a social justice issue which requires citizens to be aware of their constitutional rights and legislative responsibilities. Scheepers-Searle said university students and staff, with its partners, can play a significant role in projects and programmes that respond to the spread of literacy in communities.
She said through the establishment of partnerships with government departments like Drakenstein Correctional Services, CPUT can give credence to its Vision 2030. "CPUT remains committed to prioritising education, which is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through engaged scholarship and reciprocal activities which benefit all in our society." She added that the symposium at Drakenstein was the first of its kind and heralded the beginning of a dynamic partnership to drive literacy development in "our society".
In her presentation: Breaking the cycle: How can education and reading-for-meaning help reduce recidivism rates? , Adjunct Professor, Janet Condy, who was the Director of the Literacy Development Research Unit at CPUT, also highlighted the challenges faced when trying to transform the DCS to a 'corrections-focused' system. It includes, among others is overcrowding, the state of the DCS facilities, institutional 'prison culture', training and retraining of members for a new paradigm, covid-19 pandemic and many more.
Some of the other presenters included Prof Hanlie Dippenaar, Assistant Dean from the Faculty of Education, Anita Walz, Associate Professor and Assistant Director of Open Education and Scholarly Communication Librarian in the University Libraries at Virginia Tech.