South Africa is one African country with an entire department dedicated to correctional services; the Department of Correctional Services. This department is in charge of running South Africa’s prison system. It caters to the needs of about 240 prisons that include minimum, medium, and maximum-security prisons.
The department has an impressive workforce of approximately 34,000 staff. Created in 1990, the department of correctional services is in charge of creating a safe and secure space for the rehabilitation of criminals and public offenders. It does so through several programs that are designed to empower the detainees and equip them for life outside of those correctional facilities. This helps them to integrate easily into society upon their release.
To improve the prison system and create a more humane environment for the detainee, the department of correctional services runs a learnership aimed at training correctional officers to be more effective in keeping correctional facilities safe and secure. Before exploring the wonders that is the correctional service learnership program, let us first understand what a correctional service(s) is/are.
What are correctional services?
Correctional services are any service necessary for the operation of a correctional facility. This usually includes the provision of food, clothing, security as well as rehabilitation programs. More simply, whatever service is essential for a correctional facility to run smoothly. E. g. to facilitate the operation of a prison, you would have to provide the prisoners with food, etc. the goal of these services is to create and maintain a peaceful as well as secured environment and society.
This includes keeping detainees in safe custody and being just. Keeping detainees in a secure and humane environment ensures that the rehabilitation of these detainees would be successful. It also contributes greatly to their reintegration into society. Now that we have a clear understanding of what correctional services are, we can then proceed to discuss the correctional learnership program that is the brainchild of the department of correctional services.
Correctional service learnership
The correctional service learnership program is a program designed by the department of correctional services. It offers people from different communities and backgrounds the chance to partake in both theoretical and practical training on how to contribute to the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners into society. The learnership program, which forms some part of the National Skill Development Strategy, contributes to the country’s battle against poverty and unemployment by promoting the acquisition of marketable skills.
Trainees are taught how to help prisoners on their journey to rehabilitation most humanely and safely. They are taught skills, and they get the opportunity to learn what behaviour is considered acceptable in the workplace and what attitude is required in a correctional facility. Those selected for the learnership program also benefit from a monthly stipend of R3.500 for the full duration of their learnership. The learnership is open to those who meet the requirements to study for the Further Education and Training (FET) certificate in the correctional service learnership. About 30% of the training will be theoretical that will include:
- Intensive instructions in firearms, self-defence, and physical training.
- The training is mandatory, and you will be required to stay at the training college for the full duration of the learnership
- Successful applicants will benefit from free accommodation, feeding, uniform, and all other training requirements.
- The practical workplace aspect of the training will take place at the correctional and social reintegration centres/units. It will include duties related to the provision of security to offenders.
- During this time, learners will continue to receive a monthly stipend.
- The Department of Correctional Services will no longer be responsible for their accommodation and feeding.
After undergoing the complete training and the learner has submitted a portfolio of evidence as well as successfully undergone external verification by the SASSETA, a Further Education Training Certificate in Corrections Services NQF 4 will be awarded to them. The application process for the correctional service learnership is easy and simple. Before choosing to apply, check to see that you might have the requirements to stand a chance of being accepted for the learnership program.
Correctional service learnership requirements
There are a few requirements for getting accepted into this learnership:
- Applicants must be South African citizens.
- Applicants must be in possession of at least a standard 10 or Grade 12 certificate or
- Applicants should have a Further Education and Training Certificate NQF (Level 4)
- Alternatively, those looking to apply for the learnership should have successfully completed the National Certificate in Vocational Studies (NQF level 4)
- Correctional service learnership application forms
Additionally, interested applicants must be:
- Between the ages of 21 and 35 years
- Applicants must have a strong character.
- Applicants must be law-abiding citizens without any criminal record.
- Those interested in applying must be willing to be subjected to physical training and firearms training conducted by the department of correctional services.
- Applicants must also be ready to subject themselves to the selection process carried out by the Department of Correctional Services.
- Interested applicants must also be up for disclosure of their personal information; they must be ready to verify their documents, qualifications, and their citizenship.
- Suppose you have any additional qualifications, such as a trade or diploma or a degree related to security or corrections. In that case, you stand a better chance of being accepted for the learnership.
How to apply to the correctional service learnership
If you meet the requirements for applicants, then you must be eager to start your application process. In order to apply for the learnership, you are required to fill out the application form neatly and correctly in your handwriting. The forms are not for sale, and you can get them from any of the sources that will be mentioned below. To apply, follow these simple steps:
- Get an application form from any correctional service office
- Or you can download the admissions application form from the department of correctional services website
- This is a direct link to their website: www.dcs.gov.za
- Get the forms under the “forms” tab at the top or bottom of the page
- When you click on the forms, click on the internship/learnership application forms link
- Then click on the learner application form link, and the form will be downloaded automatically to your device
- Print out the form and fill in your handwriting
- Specify the learnership post you are applying for
- Make sure to sign the application form yourself
- Attach certified copies of your certificates and identity documents
Take note of these:
- Unsigned or late forms will not be acceptable
- Forms that are photocopied will not be accepted
- Forms that are e-mailed or faxed will not be accepted
Correction learnership application forms
To apply for the department of correctional Service learnership, you will be required to fill out the correctional service learnership application form. This form is available for free download online on the department of correctional services website. Download the form and fill it out in your handwriting and remember to sign where it is stipulated. You can get the form at any department of correctional service local office.
It is important to note that:
- The application must be completed in full and incomplete applications will be discarded.
- The completed application will be evaluated alongside the required documents for the learnership you are applying to.
- If, after three months from the closing date, you have not been contacted, it is right for you (the applicant) to assume that you have not been successful.
- Successful applicants will be required to sign a learnership agreement with their designated trainer.
- Ensure that the required documents are attached to your application form (check for the requirements for the application above)
Now that you have a chance to become a correctional officer, here’s what you will be expected to do as an officer in a correctional facility. First things first, who are correctional officers, and what do correctional officers do?
A correction officer is a uniformed officer who is responsible for ensuring that offenders in custody are under close supervision, safe, and abiding by the correctional facility’s rules and regulations. They are responsible for caring for and controlling the individuals who have been convicted of crimes and sentenced to imprisonment. They are charged with the task of maintaining peace and order, and this sometimes demands that they break off violent confrontations between intimates, which could be typical in such situations.
So, if you have noticed a uniformed officer in a prison who is in charge of supervising prisoners and monitoring them, then you have seen a correctional officer. Although correctional officers receive intense firearms training and are uniformed officers, they are not the police. They cannot make arrests and perform the duties of a police officer.
Roles of correctional officers
- Correctional officers are charged with the enforcement of rules and keeping order within jails and prison
- They are also in charge of supervising the activities of inmates
- They will also be charged with inspecting the facilities and making sure that they are safe and secure
- Escort and transport inmates between facilities
- They would have to keep a close eye on inmates and report their conduct
- Find and dispose of contrabands
As a correctional officer, it is important for you to have a unique skill set that allows you to accommodate and deal with the stress and excesses of inmates and correctional facilities. You will need to have:
- Good judgment
- Be self-discipline
- Be physically strong and be strong-willed
- Have good interpersonal skills
- You should be resourceful
- You should have very good negotiating skills
Also Read: Best Learnerships in South Africa
As a correctional officer, you would earn an average salary of R199.499, including allowances depending on their positions and departments they are serving in. If you are considering this a career path, then you might want to start gearing up to apply. Applications are due to open later this year, around the month of November or December. You are advised to get all relevant documentation in hand and ready for the application process. You can stay up to date on application dates by visiting the vacancies page on the department of correctional service website. There, you will have constant updates on when the learnership is open for applications and the deadline for submitting applications.
For more information:
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