Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with Minister Louise Upston and Tertiary Education Commission Chief Executive Tim Fowler. Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith has welcomed the Tertiary Education Commission’s (TEC) re-commitment to work with his department providing access to quality education for prisoners and helping reduce re-offending.

Corrections and TEC have signed a two year extension to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) originally agreed between the two organisations in 2014, indicating the success of the relationship so far and an opportunity to build on those foundations.

“The two organisations have mutual objectives around education and training in prisons provided by tertiary education organisations. This agreement ensures services provided are of a high quality, lead to nationally recognised qualifications, and align to labour market needs,” said Mr Smith.

TEC will provide almost $8 million dollars in education funding this year, while, in addition, Corrections funds approximately $3 million (1,300 places) in intensive literacy and numeracy programmes and approximately $1.5 million (4,600 programmes) in industry and vocational training.

Qualifications are provided in areas such as foundation skills, NCEA, primary industries, building and construction and Māori studies.

“Educational achievement is important in enabling prisoners to fully participate and benefit from employment, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.”

“The majority of prisoners have limited education or work experience. A high percentage of prisoners have no formal qualifications and less than half of them were in paid work before going to prison.”

“Raising the skill levels of prisoners not only helps their chances of finding sustainable employment on release, but more importantly makes prisoners less likely to re-offend, which in turn helps to keep our communities safe,” said Mr Smith.

This MOU will run until the end of 2018 and will continue to strengthen the joint focus on gaining qualifications and provide a framework for ongoing collaboration between the two organisations.