Beading and computer programming a way out of prison

first_imgBrothers for All uses former offenders to raise funds and teach computer coding to prisoners. Cash for the initiative is raised through making bead jewellery, which is then poured into programming classes at prisons in Western Cape. Prisoners in Worcestor recently got a choice to register for a 12 month computer programming course. (Images: Facebook) Melissa JavanWhat started as a way to keep himself busy in prison is now a skill Sihle Tshabalala teaches to generate an income; the cash is used to keep a business open that allows offenders to learn computer programming. In turn, the prisoners have a marketable skill when they get out of jail.Tshabalala is a founder of the non-profitable social enterprise, Brothers for All. He took up beading while he was in prison and the skill taught him a few things, including an attention to detail. “I learned patience, persistence and precision,” he told Lead SA. “You know that if you make a mistake, you can rectify it.”Lead SA is a private sector initiative that challenges South Africans to do the right thing every day and to counter the negative perceptions about the country.After 11 years in prison, Tshabalala is now the national co-ordinator of Brothers for All. Together with his team, he makes jewellery out of beads which is sold. The income from this is used to run the initiative. One of its projects is to teach computer coding to young children and unemployed people in Langa, a township in Cape Town.His motivation is an analogy he was once told, Tshabalala says. “This man asked me if I had one rand; he also had one rand. If we exchanged the rands, what I would have, he asked. I said I would have the same rand he gave me.”“He then asked if I had an idea and he had an idea, and we exchanged our ideas, how many ideas would I have. I said two – my original idea and your idea.”Tshabalala says he feels extremely proud and happy to be contributing to a safe society and job creation. “When I was in prison I read a quote that said: ‘If you are looking for a miracle in life and you can’t find one, then be that miracle for others.’” Sihle Tshabalala made sure the skills he was taught in prison didn’t stay there – he now uses his beadwork skills to generate an income.Brothers for All launched its coding project in the Worcester Male and Worcester Female Correctional Centres on 1 May.It is an offshoot of Mothers for All, which was established in 2010 with an award-winning prisoner initiative called the Group of Hope.The principal objective of Mothers for All is to provide income-generation projects and life skills training for the caregivers of children made vulnerable or orphaned by AIDS. “By giving caregivers support and training we enable the generation of a sustainable income, benefiting both the women and the children within their care,” reads the website.“The women receive money for the products they are taught to make, which are sold both in Botswana and internationally.”Mothers for All says their work in South African prisons and the community using the Group of Hope inmates and parolees has been steadily growing.That early project enabled prisoners to change their lives through helping orphans in nearby impoverished communities. “We felt a new arm of the organisation was required to support this exciting direction.“It [Brothers for All] now also focuses on personal development, behavioural change and making safer choices in general – safe on a personal level and safe for the community. Using the perpetrators of violence to become part of the solution is inspiring many people to get involved,” reads their website.According to Brothers for All, it began by designing and delivering peer education programmes to cover HIV, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis in four prisons. “The work was highly successful with our results presented at XIX International Aids Conference in Washington in 2012 and the Durban Aids Conference in 2013. We also started an income generation project in the prison which has generated more than R100 000 to support local communities,” reads the organisation’s website.“While working with prisoners trying to turn their lives around, it became clear that aspirational technology skills are the only scalable way to end the cycle of poverty and crime. So in 2014, Brothers for All focused on equipping offenders, ex-offenders and vulnerable youth with aspirational technology and entrepreneurship skills.”Linda McCourt Scott, the co-founder and managing director, says Brothers for All is part of the non-profit group Mothers for All. Brothers for All was launched in 2013.“The Langa coding project started in October 2014; to date around 150 unemployed youth and learners have registered. At least half of our students are females. Six of our students, four of whom are females, have already won scholarships to Codex,” she says.Codex is a training programme that consists of an apprenticeship programme where developers do daily coding exercises, as well as talks with industry professionals and mentors. A total of 150 unemployed youth and children has registered to learn things building a website from coding.At the first class on 4 May, there were with 11 inmates – three males and eight females. “They have all enrolled in the course which will be run over the next 12 months. Part of our programme also requires that our trained students pass on the skills they have learned, so this offender group will quickly become the trainers of a new offender group.”Here is what Brothers for All tweeted on the day:Prison Coding Project begins, a first for Africa! Follow our revolutionary journey as we turn offenders into coders: pic.twitter.com/ej8uvAXnsp— Brothers for All (@brothersforall) May 1, 2015Programming skillsShe says they will learn a combination of programming languages, depending on their focus and ability. Those being taught include HTML5 and C++, Java, JavaScript, C#, PHP, Python, Ruby and SQL. “This will allow them to build websites, blogs and apps, and work in database management, among other things.”McCourt Scott says proudly: “I would like to say that there is only one other prison coding project in the world, at San Quentin in California, which started late last year.“However, this project is the first in the world that targets female offenders (most of whom are inside for economic crimes), and is the first to use ex-offenders to run the programme.”No qualifications are needed for learning computer programming, McCourt Scott says, “only proficiency in English and basic maths as well as a strong commitment to learn”.The initiative has permission to start the prison coding project in all 42 prisons in Western Cape. “The next one will probably be in Goodwood, as it is very close to our Langa centre.”Resource needsThe project has a bit of sponsorship in the form of donated computers and laptops and funding to get the project off the ground, she says. “All our students and offenders are also taught to make recycled paper bead jewellery.“This helps to bring in roughly R10 000 per month to pay for data costs, rent and travel. We urgently require a car at the moment so that we can reach more prisons, as well as additional computers, space to expand and support with our data costs,” she says.“We use a Telkom LTE modem to link up around 50 computers at our centre and use approximately R2 000 data per month.”Watch Sihle Tshabalala, a former convict talk about how he decided to make a difference with his life:Watch Mzikula Duda of Brothers for All talk about how he made a decision not to do violence against women and children:last_img read more

Stifling accounting rules threaten jobs and science at Spanish institutes

first_imgResearch jobs were lost at the Solar Platform of Almería in Spain because stifling new accounting rules blocked funds. geogphotos/Alamy Stock Photo By Tania RabesandratanaMar. 22, 2018 , 2:00 PM Stifling government accounting rules are threatening scientific projects and jobs at several Spanish research bodies. Scientists at both the Spanish Oceanography Institute (IEO), headquartered in Madrid, and the Solar Platform of Almería (PSA), a large solar research center in the Tabernas Desert, have expressed concern about what they see as senseless red tape that holds up spending.Some 340 staff at IEO—60% of the total—sent a manifesto to the press last week to warn that the center is “collapsing.” The problems compound the plight of Spanish science, which suffered from budget cuts during the country’s recent economic woes and faces a proliferating bureaucracy aimed at controlling spending.IEO’s troubles stem partly from rules that apply to five public research bodies, known as OPIs in Spanish, with a total of 1700 researchers. Under accounting regulations introduced by the current conservative government in 2014, a team of six state auditors must preapprove every purchase at IEO, which has nine research centers across the country and five research ships. As a result, projects and recruitment have been severely delayed and IEO spent only half of its budget last year, down from 90% in 2013, according to the manifesto.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)center_img Stifling accounting rules threaten jobs and science at Spanish institutes Researchers have trouble recruiting staff or buying equipment even if they receive funding from outside Spain, says Manuel Ruiz Villarreal, a physicist at IEO’s A Coruña branch and the principal investigator of four projects funded by the European Union, including an effort to predict the health risks of toxic algal blooms. Ruiz Villarreal says the auditing system, known as “prior intervention,” should be lifted for projects that receive external funding and are already subject to checks after the money is spent.Other OPIs must adhere to similar rules, but the manifesto says the situation is worst at IEO, which signatories say reveals a “structural problem” in the institute’s management. “We’ve been raising the alarm for several years,” Ruiz Villarreal says. “As a researcher, I can’t go to the minister of the treasury myself. Our management has to tackle this.””It’s true we are having difficulties,” admits IEO Director Eduardo Balguerías Guerra, who says the institute needs time to adapt to the rules but denies that its activities are paralyzed. “All the OPIs and the secretary of state are working very hard to solve these problems,” he says. Until Spain’s 2018 budgets are approved, additional restrictions will continue to exacerbate the difficulties, Balguerías Guerra says. But after that, he thinks the situation will improve.Carmen Vela, state secretary in charge of research, development, and innovation, has admitted that IEO had “problems in its day-to-day management” and “had a bad [budget] execution.” Vela told members of the Spanish congress’s economy, industry, and competitiveness committee on 14 March that the institute’s low spending was due to a large building project that did not get approval last year. She also conceded that the “prior intervention” system has created difficulties for the OPIs and said she is taking steps to minimize damage. But some observers say a patchwork of emergency measures won’t provide a lasting solution.PSA, the solar energy center, is part of an OPI called the Center for Energy, Environment, and Technology, which has also suffered from a 2016 regulation stipulating that funds received before September must be spent before the end of that same year. PSA scientists say this rule makes no sense when a grant is meant to be spread across several years, as many EU grants are. In the first 6 weeks of this year, PSA lost 14 research jobs out of a total of 40 because funds received earlier were blocked and the center couldn’t advertise the posts, says Sixto Malato, a scientist in PSA’s research unit for the solar treatment of water. He stepped down from his role as PSA director last November to protest the rules.A total of €6 million, the entirety of PSA’s research budget, is blocked and will have to be gradually returned to the European Commission with interest if the rules are not reversed, Malato says. “The government has to recognize their mistake,” he says. “We’re not asking for funds, we’re asking [the treasury] to let us use external funds that will be spent in Spain and create jobs in Spain.”last_img read more

Federer beats Djokovic to win seventh Dubai title

first_imgDefending champion Roger Federer won his seventh Dubai Championships title and second of the year in defeating top-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-5 on Saturday.This marked the seventh consecutive year – 11th time in 13 years – that Federer or Djokovic won this title. The only other tournaments Federer won seven times are Wimbledon, and Halle, Germany, both on grass.”Ever since I won here the first time, I fell in love with the tournament,” Federer said. “The seventh is quite unbelievable. It sounds pretty crazy to me.”Federer, who has 84 career titles, won in Brisbane, Australia, in January.”He deserved it,” Djokovic said. “I expected that from him.”I knew he was going to chip and charge, come to the net, serve and volley.”The 5,000-seat stadium was sold out, but many more people were standing around at the top. They were treated to a high-caliber match. Federer needed five more aces to become just the fourth player since 1991 to serve 9,000 career aces. He served 12 in the final.He joined Goran Ivanisevic (10,183), Ivo Karlovic (9,375), and Andy Roddick (9,074) in cracking the 9,000 aces mark.”I even remember which one it was because I was counting them,” Federer said. “It was one of the swinger wides.”It’s nice to get past that so I don’t have to think about it ever again, or until the next thousand or so.”Federer saved all seven break points he faced, while Djokovic lost both break points he faced. Djokovic sailed a backhand long on break point in the eighth game of the first set.advertisementIn the second set, Djokovic had a 40-0 lead in the 11th game, but watched Federer rebound to break his serve with an inside out forehand crosscourt winner.”The first set belonged to me, but the second set belonged to him more, really,” Federer said. “It was a huge game at 5-all, 40-love for him.”I crawled my way back into that game and ended up breaking him,” Federer added. “That was big but the break points I saved were even bigger.”last_img read more