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First Cohort of 226 Inmates and Prison Staff Graduate from the Vocational Training Centre in Juba Central Prison

The National Prisons Service of South Sudan (NPSSS) feted the graduation of the first batch of 226 inmates and prison staff trained in eight trades at the Vocational Training Centre in Juba Central Prison. In a ceremony held at the Vocational Training Centre on Tuesday, 134 (10 female) inmates were honored for successfully completing the four-month training, which included theory and extensive practical sessions. Ninety-two (22 female) prison staff also trained in the eight specialties to serve as instructors for subsequent classes.

Minister of Interior Lt. Gen. Michael Chiangjiek Geay and Minister of Labour and Human Resources Development Gabriel Doup Lam presided over the ceremony, which was attended by Inspector General of Police Gen. Makur Marol Aduot, Acting Director General of Prisons Lt. Gen. Samir Khamis, Mayor of Juba City Council Stephen Wani Michael, Former Director General NPSSS Gen. Abel Makoi Wol, United Nations Development Programme Country Director Kamil Kamaluddeen, Dutch Defence Attaché Col. Dirk Burger, members of the international community, INGOs and senior officials from NPSSS.

UNDP's Access to Justice and Rule of Law Project, with funding from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, supported NPSSS to promote prisoners' rehabilitation through the establishment of a pilot Vocational Training Centre at Juba Central Prison. The centre aims to reduce recidivism by imparting technical skills to inmates that enable them to earn a living and facilitate their rehabilitation as contributors to society when released.

UNDP renovated existing buildings for use as classrooms, and supplied the equipment and materials required for instruction in eight trades: carpentry, masonry, electrician, welding, vehicle mechanics, agriculture, hair dressing and tailoring. The program is an innovative attempt to ensure sustainability and promote indigenous expertise. The project engaged the Ministry of General Education and the Ministry of Labor, locally-recruited trainers and NPSSS staff to develop training curricula in line with the curricula used in other technical schools in South Sudan.

The facility has been registered as a commercial company and is marketing its services and products to make the workshop self-sustainable. At the graduation ceremony, furniture, beds, wooden and metal door frames, doors, windows, wooden cabinets, farming tools, clothing and handicrafts manufactured by the trainees were on display.

"Our products are of high quality and available at highly competitive prices. We also offer services for electrical installations, vehicle repairs, tailoring and hair dressing. I appeal to all partners to support our efforts in this regard," said NPSSS Director of Production and Rehabilitation Brig. Anthony Oliver Lege.

Equipped with musical instruments made from empty tins and plates, the guests were entertained by the Vocational Training Center "Freedom Boys" band with a welcome song about how vocational training was changing their lives. All trainees were awarded certificates, and the esteemed guests presented appreciation letters to the instructors.

Proudly clutching her certificate, Tiodolar Kiden (female) from the Tailoring Unit said, "I joined the tailoring course in February and was released from prison in April. I am back in Kajo-Keji and have started my small tailoring shop to support my family. I am really happy to get this opportunity to learn and do something for myself and my family. This course changed my life."

"This is for me a remarkable day of my stay in Juba. The Centre inspires hope in the lives of so many people. I congratulate the prison service, UNDP, the instructors and the trainees for this great achievement," said Dutch Defence Attaché Col. Dirk Burger, while addressing the gathering.

"I take this opportunity to congratulate all the trainees for successfully completing the training. You have shown the way for others by converting the difficult period of your life into an opportunity to acquire new skills," said UNDP Country Director Kamil Kamaluddeen in remarks delivered at the occasion.

"We greatly appreciate the support extended by UNDP to the project from the very beginning. We hope to expand this pilot to become the national vocational training center for NPSSS with continued support from UNDP," said Acting Director General Lt. Gen. Samir Khamis.

"On behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom of Netherlands for their generous support to the prisons service. I also express my sincere thanks to UNDP for its sustained support to this important initiative," said Minister of Interior Lt. Gen. Michael Chiangjiek Geay.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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