Sr. Frances RooneyPrison Ministry in
Livingstone Central Prison, Zambia

                       Sr. Frances Rooney, FMSA                        

On coming to Zambia in 2005,1 became involved in the teaching of English in the local prison and I have been teaching there two mornings a week since then. There is a huge need for this work as it is very difficult to find volunteer teachers willing to go there.  Most local teachers have their own difficulties as they try to meet the needs of their families and dependents.  At the same time there is a growing interest on the part of the prison inmates in education and many are keen to take advantage of the opportunities offered in the prison school.

The school was established many years ago and the Administration of the Prison sees it as a very important factor in the rehabilitation and reform of the inmates. The Officer-in-Charge, a graduate teacher himself, is particularly committed to developing the Education Programme and is proud of the fact that some ex-prisoners who were part of the programme are now doing well in society. One is a secondary teacher.

The Prison School has a number of classes: Basic Literacy, Grade 7, Grade 8-9 and Grade 12 with an enrolment of about 60 students in total.

Many more inmates would like to join, but due to lack of space and other facilities, are unable to do so.  A few of the officers are trained teachers but they are often busy with other prison duties and so are unable to devote as much time as they would like to teaching. Some inmates help out and do a very good job although they are not trained.

The Education programme is a great asset to the prisoners. One of the major benefits is that it gives them the chance of formal education which many did not have before they came.  In the process their self-esteem grows and they get a new lease of life as they apply themselves to the demands and discipline of study.  It is wonderful to see the transformation in many of them and their motto these days seems to be, "Yes, we can!"

I feel privileged to be involved in the programme and only wish I had more time to devote to it.  As always, we missionaries receive more than we could ever give.