In a world first, 40 offenders from Pollsmoor and Malmesbury prison were given a second chance when they were presented with certificates of excellence from the International Computer Drivers License (ICDL) by the South African Minister of Correctional Services, Ngconde Balfour. 

In February this year, ICDL registered Pollsmoor Prison as the first Open ICDL prison centre in the world. Balfour received the centre registration certificate for the prison and at the same time acknowledge that the ICDL would be an integral part of the offender development programme.
“The role the ICDL certification program can play, to develop offenders and maximise their ability to return to the workplace with real skills needed by the South African economy, is a reality,” he says.
“These 40 offenders (20 from Pollsmoor and 20 from Malmesbury) obtained their ICDL certification after completing their ICDL examinations as part of the offender development program,” said Jennifer van Niekerk, CEO of the ICDL in South Africa.
“What these offenders have achieved is remarkable. Obtaining the ICDL certification is not trivial – one requires commitment and dedication,” Van Niekerk says.
To obtain the ICDL certificate a candidate must demonstrate practical proficiency in each of the most commonly-used software tools, passing all seven modules with at least 70%.
Van Niekerk says the commitment shown by the Department of Correctional Services has been tremendous and the support they have given to the 40 candidates in assisting them to complete their certification has been phenomenal. The Department of Correctional Services has pioneered this program by ICDL by certifying some of its own staff, who then undertook the delivery of the ICDL course to the offenders.
“Based on this success, it is expected that this development program will be offered in other Correctional Services facilities throughout South Africa,” says van Niekerk.
The ICDL is the global end-user standard for computer literacy. ICDL in South Africa is a non-profit organisation established to promote digital literacy to all and to administer the global quality standard in end user computing.
In South Africa over 200 000 candidates have registered to do the ICDL certification program and internationally there are more than 7-million candidates registered.