Rimutaka prison celebrates literacy and numeracy graduates

By Heta Gardiner

Six inmates from Rimutaka prison graduated from a literacy and numeracy programme today. Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has been contracted by Corrections to deliver the initiative giving priority to learners with the highest educational needs.

An inmate who we will call Mr Tane for privacy purposes told Te Kāea, “It would be good to take all the skills that I learn in here out into the big world for my family and friends and my kids.”

This is the graduation for the prisoners at Rimutaka Prison. At the heart of the program is improving literacy and numeracy amongst prisoners. Six people graduated today and since this program began two years ago, 884 prisoners have graduated from 16 different prisons.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa CEO Jim Mather says, “It's important that we remember that this is just the first step. We hope that this opens doors for them beyond the immediate benefits.”

National MP Louise Upston says, “I've seen a range of examples of learning opportunities both at this prison and at others and the more skills we give them the better their opportunities.”

When the programme began some inmates refused to take part but after participating their perspectives changed.

Mr Tane says, “At the start I was one of those people I was declining to jump on this course at the starting of the program. Staff and that were pushing me to go in there and give it a go.”

Upston says, “It not only effects the prisoners but there are flow on effects for the families as well. I think that's a really important part of changing the patterns of some of the families and individuals.”

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is hoping the program can be expanded.