By Taban Henry
Wau Vocational Training Center of Western Bahr el Ghazal State has graduated 120 inmates on Thursday. Addressing the graduation ceremony, the Director of Prison Service in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, Maj. Gen. Atok Atem Barac said among the graduates are; 14 males, thirteen female prison personnel and 83 juveniles of which 35 are female.
Wau Vocational Training Center is the second facility after Juba Vocational Training Center which imparts knowledge and skills to inmates and staff of the prison service.
And it has been the second time the vocational Center is graduating inmates and prison personnel from the reformatory center.
The inmates were graduated in different fields of professions including; Auto Mechanic, Masonry, Carpentry, Tailoring, Welding, Hair Plating, Agriculture and Electrical Engineering.
Maj. Gen. Barac stated that within the short time, the center had contributed in transforming people in prison to become productive in the society.
He said that the center is currently producing materials that will generate income and become self-reliant rather than depending on external support citing that Western Bahr el Ghazal prison service is optimistic and confident to ensure sustainability of Wau Vocational Center.
The Director of Wau Prison Service said they are being faced with lots of problems including long distance from the VTC, disturbance from the rain during the rainy season due to lack of mobility, and the issue of limited man power specialized in Carpentry section.
The training center is appealing for the provision of power designing machine 220V sewing Machine and power Zigzag 220V, sewing machine, circular power saw 220V and Bench planner 220V, Arc welding machine (mass production type) 220/380V and Arc welding machine (medium for training)22OV/380V, tool kits for the graduates and leather.
One of the graduates, Nicola Mario Paul who did Electrical Engineering commended the initiative introduced within the prison centers. He said that the training has been significant and will help them in their future life.
He said they came from different societies and in detention they came to know each other in broader dimension citing that detention is not an ending point to their lives or future but correctional institutions where people can learn and acquire new things.
“We are happy to be graduated from the VTC after acquiring skills and knowledge in the trades of Masonry, hair dressing and beauty therapy, electrical installation, fashion design, agriculture, carpentry, joinery, automotive, welding and metal fabrication respectively. The technical skills and knowledge we had acquired is an instrumental element for seeking opportunities in the market to earn livelihood,” he said.
Mario said that he is well equipped with knowledge and skills, as an active youth he can contribute positively to the economy of the country through formal and informal employment.
He said the skills and knowledge will act as a catalyst for getting employment and opportunities. He said being a graduate from the reformatory center he will be ready to implement what they have learned. He added that due to difficulties in getting jobs it might lead to redundancy.
“Self-employment is a quick substitute but cannot succeed without support. In this regards we shall be grateful if at the time we are supported with the basic tools as a setup kits,” he added
Meanwhile, the Residence Representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Dr. Samuel Doe said that the UN 2030 strategic goal says “leave no youth behind”.
He said that United Nations will always build the future for our youth. He stated that, young people should not be sentenced to a life of neglect and doom because they served time for breaking the law.
He further said, the training befits everyone, and he ensured young people to walk out of the prison when they are transformed and empowered to live positively.
“This training will prevent recidivism and promote a secure nation with robust and sustainable economy through inclusive development. In addition, the rehabilitation programme is significantly contributing to the national efforts to ensure safety, security and peace by addressing the surge in the youth delinquency and involvement in community violence,” he said.
UNDP resident Representative is calling on the fellow development partners and the private sector to joint hands in scaling up the programme on training prison inmates in the country to upgrade the infrastructure of the centers to ensure that the training and skills development remain relevant in the fast-evolving technological world.
“I urge the prisons service to explore ways to expand the production scheme for revenue generation, to ensure sustainability and provide wages for the inmates working in the unit, as provided by the prison law. Developing a robust marketing strategy will ensure that the products and services are well patronized,” he added.
For his part, the Western Bahr el Ghazal State minister of Local Government who represents the Governor Ibrahim Surur said that everybody is interested at all the activities being done at the vocational training center, I thought it was only for the inmates but now there are also prison staff who completed their course.
“For those who have graduated today you have a very strong weapon with all the certificates we have given you with a strong weapon from the tutors and I think this a very big thing and you will benefit from it because a person in prison has become an engineer and anything that has made you to enter the prison today you have left it behind and you will start doing new things,” he said.