Prison ^C

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Yesterday I attented the launch of the first tuXlab installed in a prison. This tuXlab has been installed in the womens section at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town. The second prison tuXlab is due for installation shortly in Malmesbury Prison, which is a medium security prison. The problem with many criminals are that they are in for petty crime, and they have a poor education, when they get back into the ‘real world’, they are jobless again and end up in prison again quickly. As a measure to fix this, the Department of Correctional Services are putting renewed focus on rehabilitation and skills development. The tuXlab set up is primarily designed for kids, although it works great for the inmates, many of them who haven’t ever seen a computer before, and some of them who can’t even read or write.

The minister of the DCS, Ngconde Balfour also attended, along with the deputy minister and commisioner of correctional services, and we had a brief breakfast as part of the launch. Zelda Holtzman, CEO of the Shuttleworth Foundation, also talked and stressed the importance of rehabilitation and public social partnerships.

There’s a strong possibility that another 30 prison labs will be rolled-out in the next 12 months or so, meaining that many people with lots of time will be able to learn more about Linux and open source software, and by the time they have finished their sentence, they may be skilled enough to make a living on their own.
Inmates will receive training at least 4 days a week, alternating between OpenICDL training and LPI training. Initially, 20 people from each prison will be eligable for writing the certification exams, although training will be open for nearly everyone who is interested.

The mood at the prison yesterday was very serious, yet optimistic, a combination that I don’t see very often, but a combination I definately enjoy seeing. There’s a great sense of support from the government, and co-operation from the prisons, even the inmates. I think it’s great that people who really have absolutely nothing, can get another chance to make something of themselves, and also that they get to do this using Ubuntu, although, there’s been some controversy over this before on the CLUG lists. Some people still have the old-fasioned notion that prisoners are in prison just for punishment, and that rehabilitation programs are just an incentive for people to get into prison. The good thing about that thread was that it made people think a bit about prison reform. TBC…

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Linuxworld 2006 – Jo’burg

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The past week, I’ve been in Johannesburg to attend the LinuxWorld / Futurex / Equip Expo. Just about all the Linux/OSS exibitioners who were there, were there last year too, although there were much less companies than last year. Many of the smaller local Linux companies said that it was simply too expensive to exhibit, and that the return on investment is practically nothing. Some people suggested that it would be better to have such an event in a smaller venue, such as a school hall. I’m not sure how many businesses would attend, but it would make it more accessable if floorspace were cheaper, and you could then have more localised events. Perhaps something that requires more thinking… might be good to combine such kind of events with Software Freedom Day. Overall the event went very well though, and I got to wrote the LPI Ubuntu Certification exam in the first session ever! I hope I passed.

May the 19th was also an informal Open Messenging Day (read darco and Ploum’s blog entries). I’ve now finally removed my ICQ/AIM account from Gaim, and after 7 years of IM’ing, I am finally using no more proprietary messenging protocols. Yay Jabber!

Saving the best news for last, Edubuntu now also has a Shipit, so you can order some Edubuntu CD’s for your school or even for yourself, visit and order yours. Also Edubuntu related, next month I’m going to Paris for the Ubuntu Developer Summit, and I’ll get to meet the Edubuntu Council members I haven’t met yet, Jerome and Jordan. Also looking forward to see Oliver and Jane, it’s been almost a year since I last saw ogra!

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