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From left: Mr KG Mmutlane (DCS), Dr M Plaatjies
(Director of Correctional Programmes), Prof Sultan
Khan (Sociology), Mr EJ Sihlangu (Deputy Director
Offender Profiling), Prof Shanta B Singh
(Criminology and Forensic Studies).

An interdisciplinary Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Learnership Programme with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has finally come into fruition. This was initiated by Professor Shanta Singh in the School of Applied Human Sciences and Professor Sultan Khan in the School of Social Sciences.

Professor Singh described the implementation of the Experiential Learning Project as an historical moment for the University and the College of Humanities. ‘It is the first experiential learning project between DCS and UKZN. The Project is an initiative that originated between the Disciplines of Criminology and Sociology at the University and DCS in 2012 and was finalised in May 2015.’

‘Negotiations on the intricacies of the implementation of such a major project had to be discussed in detail and after several meetings with representatives from DCS and staff at UKZN this initiative emerged,’ she said.

A recent meeting to introduce the MOU took place on the Howard College campus in which the DCS, represented by the Directorate’s Correctional Programmes and Risk Profile Management, made a formal presentation to students on the Experiential Learning Project.

The presentation covered Implementation of the Project, Monitoring and Evaluation, Legal Matters, Student Guidelines and best practice from other institutions.

The response to the presentation by DCS was excellently received by both Honours and Masters Students in Criminology and Sociology, with many students indicating enthusiasm and a keen interest in undertaking this project.

Speaking further on the Project, Professor Singh stated that both students and academic staff would be provided with the opportunity to conduct comparative research on identified and relevant contemporary issues in partnership with the Department.

‘DCS will provide training to post graduate students on how to conduct assessments. Mentors, identified in correctional centres will supervise and coach the students to ensure that there is compliance in terms of the department’s policies and procedures, rules and regulations. Besides gaining practical experience students will be able to add this to their CV as part of their experiential work experience.’

In addition, this partnership will assist DCS with assessments, profiling and Correctional Sentence Plans (CSPs) and presenting correctional programmes to sentenced offenders. The compilation of the CSP will indicate which rehabilitation programmes are suitable for the specific offender.

‘This function performed by the Humanities students will be of great value to DCS as it will directly address the core function of the Department as stated in the White Paper i.e. rehabilitation of offenders,’ added Professor Singh.

Both Professor Singh and Professor Khan will serve on the National Board of DCS in order to oversee the implementation of this project.