Monday, January 25, 2021

Religious Studies – prisoners’ course of choice behind bars

In 2011, a total of 4, 900 people were sent to Botswana’s prisons and it is ironic that the majority of these offenders found Jesus or became actively involved in Christian studies.

The Botswana Prisons Services Public Relations Officer, Senior Superintendent Wamorena Ramolefhe, has disclosed that 97 percent of the 4 900 prisoners in the country’s prisons in 2011 actively enrolled in “various Bible training courses”.

Far below the 97 percent of prisoners who are involved in Christian studies as part of rehabilitation comes a paltry 12,9 of convicts who are engaged in vocational courses such as welding, fabrication, carpentry, joinery, pottery, tailoring and dress making.

He said 10 percent of prisoners are involved in agricultural courses such as dry land farming, horticulture, orchard, poultry, dairy farming and small stock.

The number of prisoners doing primary education stands at 1.6 percent, junior certificate 1 percent, 0,4 percent at BGCSE whilst 0,3 are doing tertiary education in courses such as degree in commerce, diploma in accountancy, diploma in business management, certificates in business management and purchasing and supply management.

On the problems they are facing in regard to giving prisoners some skills, Ramolefhe said that their main problem was lack of structures such as class rooms and that some prisons are improvising and using tents as class rooms whilst others assemble under trees for lessons.

He said that the global economic recession had adversely affected their development projects, and such projects had to be deferred.

Ramolefhe said that foreigners are also eligible to engage in educational programmes.

Recently, a convicted Muslim prisoner sued the Department on grounds that he was being discriminated against as a Muslim and was forced to eat food that was not hallal, which is contrary to his religion and which he said will make him not acceptable to God after he has died.

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