Opening young minds behind closed doors : a Westville prison experience.
This study is an exploration of prison learners' experiences of the educational rehabilitation programmes offered in the Westville Youth Centre School. The study was done in the Westville Youth Centre, which is situated in the Durban Management Area in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The sample consisted of eleven prison learners of the Usethubeni Youth School, nine educators from this school and one control educator (who is responsible for co-ordinating the educational rehabilitation programmes in the Durban Management Area). Data was collected through interviews and questionnaires. Interviews with learners were done at different intervals. There was an in-depth interview with one of the learners and two focus group interviews, which consisted of five learners in each session. A questionnaire was used to gather data from educators and finally an in-depth interview was conducted with the co-ordinator of educational rehabilitation programmes. Photographs of the prison classroom and the cell were taken by the researcher to illustrate the context in which the research was done. The varying methods of data collection revealed that what is referred to as "educational rehabilitation programmes" are programmes similar to any school curricular outside the prison. There is nothing unique about this curriculum. The participants felt that this curriculum was not rehabilitative because it did not include programmes that could curb recidivism (relapsing into crime) by empowering prison learners and helping them "unlearn faulty behaviour." This study concludes with the recommendations for the Department of Correctional Services' policy makers and planners as well as the managers of educational rehabilitation programmes in the Durban Management area.