Over 180 offenders are to converge in George, in the Western Cape, for the 8th Funda Mzansi Championship from 02 to 05 October 2017, under the theme, ‘Building Creative Minds’. For the first time since its conception, this year’s competition will cover all 11 South African official languages.
A total of 49 book clubs have been registered, with more than 800 spectators expected to attend.
Offenders are among the least educated members of society and sadly dominated by youth who account for more than 60 percent of the total inmate population.
It was therefore prudent for Correctional Services to collaborate with the National Library of South Africa and George Municipality on a journey to inculcate a culture of book reading, targeting youth. This initiative has been well received by inmates hence their participation has been increasing year-on-year.
Funda Mzansi started as a response to the survey conducted by the South African Book Development Council in 2007 on general reading habits in South African communities. That survey revealed that South Africa is not a reading nation.
The Centre for the Book therefore decided to intervene by way of establishing book clubs in communities and schools. Correctional Services refused to be left out, and also started book clubs inside correctional facilities and encouraged offenders to improve their literacy and educational levels.
The book clubs have promoted cohesiveness amongst inmates and the numbers of inmates publishing books continues to increase. In 2016, the Funda Mzansi competition attracted more than 30 book clubs and was attended by more than 700 spectators from all over the country.
This competition enhances the language skills and has assisted offenders during their examinations. It is therefore not surprising that Correctional Services registered a 72.1 percent matric pass rate in the 2016 academic year.
“The Department of Correctional Services is steadfast on promoting a culture of reading and writing in our correctional centres. We encourage offenders to reflect on their experiences and to pen down their stories. It has to be a fun exercise geared to meet the demands of a knowledgeable society,” said James Smalberger, Acting National Commissioner of Correctional Services.
Issued by Department of Correctional Services