'The genius behind bars is incredible!' - Inmates to learn alongside SU students

A new, local project wants to give offenders a second chance at becoming productive members of society, by using their time behind bars to improve their education.

The programme is called the Prison-to-College Pipeline SA (P2CP) and is loosely based on an existing American model.

It was launched in South Africa in July, kicking off at the Brandvlei Correctional Centre in Worcester.

Read: Hospitality school offers fresh start for former inmates

American founder, journalist and justice activist Dr Baz Dreisinger partnered with Stellenbosch University to create the South African pilot.

Stellenbosch University academic Dr Mary Nel explains that the project aims to educate inmates through a joint learning community.

The initiative also offers rehabilitation support and education opportunities to those who have finished serving time.

Read also: Why a proposed a transitional social grant for ex-offenders is a good idea

The pilot project will see Brandvlei inmates, who are currently studying through Unisa, study together with Stellenbosch University students and academics in prison from 2019.

Our [pilot] initiative is called the Ubuntu Learning community... everyone is learning together.

Dr Mary Nel, academic director in the faculty of law at Stellenbosch University

The first component is an educational component... The whole point is collaboration, learning from each other and community building.

Dr Mary Nel, academic director in the faculty of law at Stellenbosch University

The second component is reintegration. We help support people have finished their prison sentences and want to come back to the community and give them an opportunity to study at Stellenbosch.

Dr Mary Nel, academic director in the faculty of law at Stellenbosch University

Here we really have a chance to re-humanise learning in this context.

Dr Mary Nel, academic director in the faculty of law at Stellenbosch University

The interactions are amazing, it is just like any other effective, productive and inspiring learning environment.

Dr Mary Nel, academic director in the faculty of law at Stellenbosch University

The people in Brandvlei thirst for knowledge and for interaction. They've got wonderful ideas. The genius behind bars is incredible!

Dr Mary Nel, academic director in the faculty of law at Stellenbosch University

Listen to the fascinating discussion on The Pippa Hudson's Show:

[WATCH] Rising hopes: Brandvlei Prison turns career criminals into bakers


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