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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

COPINE, CAI train 63 Prison staff, inmates


•On PC appreciation

As part of the Computer Aid International (CAI) success stories in the country, one of its local partners, the Cooperative Information Network (COPINE), Obafemi Awolowo University Campus, Ile-Ife, has trained 63 Nigerians on computer appreciation at the Ile-Ife Medium Security Prison, Ile-Ife, Osun State, reports REMMY NWEKE.

The participants were made up of both staff of the Prisons and some inmates.

Computer Aid International is the world’s largest experienced not-for-profit provider of professionally refurbished personal computers (PCs) to developing countries and has provided over 150,000 computers to educational institutions and not-for-profit organisations in 105 different countries since 1998.

Disclosing this in Lagos, at the weekend, while concluding her country visit to Nigeria, the West Africa Programme Officer at CAI, Ms. Anne Musyoki, described the completion of the training session as one of the success stories spurred by CAI partnership in the country.

She also said that Computer Aid provides only high-quality Pentium 4 Personal Computers (PCs).

Affirming this, the lead officer at COPINE, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Dr. Thomas K. Yesufu, said that the training comprised of a session for both staff of the Prisons and some of the inmates.

This, he said, was a pilot project of COPINE under its Computer Appreciation and Network Development Opportunities (CAN DO) project, implemented at the Nigeria Prisons Services in Ile-Ife and Oshogbo to help the in-mates to sustainably acquire skills that could enable them to readily lead a responsible life after serving their terms, and to consistently bridge the digital divide in the country.

Through this project, he said, specialized skills were acquired by the in-mates and staff of the prison services located in the south-west part of the country.

Yesufu explained that two facets of trainings were organized, namely with the inmates receiving training in basic computing and vocational skills in addition to the staff who were taught basic computing skills.

The intensive training, he said, was facilitated with computer systems donated by Computer Aid International, whereas it was held between August 17 and October 20 this year, stressing that the exercise was planned to appropriately interface with the programme of staff and inmates.

“After needs assessment and the staggering need for adult literacy amongst inmates, 54 members of staff of the prisons and nine in-mates were trained to acquire computing skills, whilst four and eight inmates were trained, respectively, to acquire barbing and tailoring as well as bag-making skills,” he said.

He explained that the aims of the penal system include to deter the potential law-breakers and reform the convicts, noting that in the country, the element of deterrence is intended to lie in the fear of detection, public trial, and the possibility of punishment, but not in the severity of the punishment to be meted out.

“Today, the treatment of convict is based increasingly on the fact that the society has a responsibility not merely to punish or reject them but to rehabilitate and guard them from a relapse into crimes. This is the principle behind the ‘CAN DO’ Project,” Dr. Yesufu asserted.

Equally, he said that the project tends to promote, rehabilitate, reform and re-integrate the ‘CAN DO’ spirit of Nigerians everywhere and success-bound in the leading of productive normal life; and bridge the digital divide in the country by taking Information Technology (IT) to the grass roots, including the most isolated people.

COPINE, he said, would support the trainees, especially the inmates on IT and help them to acquire vocational skills, while showing to the society that the Prison is really a reformation centre and not a mould for hardening criminals.

He emphasized that in the course of the training, the exercise involved different methodology, including lecture, individual practice, group practice, peer, question and answer periods in addition to assignments.

The participants during the course were provided with different learning materials including computer training manuals with10 computer packages, computer systems, sewing machines, sewing materials, leathers and hair barbing clippers.

The computer manuals that were distributed were compiled by a committee consisting only of members of staff of COPINE.

Other sewing materials and leather-based fabrics were provided by COPINE whilst the sewing machines and clippers were provided by the Prisons management. Certificates, he said, were later presented to all the participants.

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