More than 60 inmates at the King’ong’o maximum prison have graduated with a certificate in Mindset Education and Theology from the Korean based International Youth Fellowship (IYF).
The 65 are part of 378 other inmates from 22 correctional facilities in the country who graduated virtually after completing the one-year course which was offered through the Mahanaim Bible College.
Speaking during the function, the director in charge of rehabilitation and welfare services at the Kenya Prison Service, Olivia Obel said that the course had been rolled out at a time when the country was witnessing an increase in mental health issues.
She said that the course was one of the interventions that the prisons department had put in place to ensure that both prison staff and the inmates gain skills to tackle some of the mental health concerns. Obel also urged the graduates to be ambassadors of positive behavior change among their fellow inmates within the correctional facilities.
“For us to change our lives we have to first change our mindset so I would urge the graduates to take time and implement whatever they have been taught in the course of the study,” said Obel.
Also in attendance was the regional prisons commander in charge of the central region, Patrick Arandu who thanked the IYF for partnering with correctional facilities in the country to rehabilitate inmates through the mindset course. He said that in the six years that the IYF had worked with the Kenya Prisons, 45 prisons had benefited from similar life-changing courses.
He also encouraged the inmates to take advantage of the learning opportunities availed to them as they serve their term. Arandu also challenged the inmates to focus on their life after prison adding that some of the courses offered in the correctional facilities would help them reintegrate back into society upon their release.
“I want to encourage those in our custody to take up any program that comes their way and more so courses that help them change their mindset. Let us embrace these opportunities and be ready to change our lives because you will be in prison for a given period of time and then you will be set free. But the question is, what are you going to do after you leave the correctional facility,” he posed.
The officer in charge of King’ong’o maximum prison, Yusuf Kaitopok said that the course had contributed to positive behavior change amongst the graduates. He also acknowledged the course’s contribution towards facilitating the prison service in the rehabilitation process of inmates who had taken up the course.
“The course entails character and mindset education and it also includes counselling, aspects that correlates with the Kenya Prisons mandate of rehabilitating and reforming inmates under our custody,” he said.
Kaitopok acknowledged that through the course, prison facilities had been empowered to embrace technology through e-learning since the lectures had been conducted online due to the disruptions occasioned by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that in addition to fully funding the course, the IYF had donated smart television sets to facilitate the virtual learning program which had enabled more correctional facilities to participate.
“IYF is among the few institutions that stood with us when we were locked down and isolated from the communities during Covid-19 pandemic. The smart TV set facilitated the virtual learning programs as a result, the program has provided the much needed hope through counselling and mindset training that made us go through the pandemic and we have emerged stronger than ever,” said Kaitopok.
The graduation was the second of its kind in the country. The first mindset graduation was held at the Kamiti Maximum prison in 2019 where more than 20 inmates graduated with a certificate in Theology.
By Lawrence Munyaka and Wangari Mwangi