Reformation of offenders: a case of Zanzibar education centres, 1972-1992

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University of Dar es Salaam
Modern penology recognises imprisonment as the means of attaining the twin aims of reform and treatment of criminals so that they will commit no crime after their release. They should come out of the prison better men and women, physically and morally than when they went in. Reformation, not suffering, should be the purpose of penal treatment of prisons. The big question, though, remains how can this be achieved, bearing in mind that the capacity of prisons to reform has been questioned with increasing intensity by experts in criminology as well as the public. Some criminologists have even gone to the extent of suggesting that prisons should ultimately be eliminated and new reformative techniques in the correctional field like probation, fine and collective labour, among others, be introduced. The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar went a step further in 1972 by abolishing prisons, replacing them with the Institute for the Education of Offenders (Chuo Cha Mafunzo), which is responsible for the policy in regard to the control, management and supervision of Education Centres. Prisons were abolished because it was felt that, prisons are alien institutions to the African way of life. Prisons carried a punitive and degrading stigma with them, and as such it did not serve the interests of the local population, nor did it serve interests of the Government which wanted offenders reformed and crime curbed. The Government did not see prisons as a place where reformation can be done. Offenders were to be reformed at Education centres. At the Education Centres, convicted offenders are to be reformed and made better citizens. They are to be provided with practical training in the fields of farming and animal husbandry, carpentry, building construction and Masonry, Motor Mechanic, tailoring and Shoe Making. Although Prisons were abolished and Education Centres established in its place, and although prisoners were renamed trainees, no ones duties changed, only his title did. Certainly the characteristics of the institution itself did not change, but only a name changed. To a man spending most of his time in a cell being `rehabilitated' and `trained', it is scarcely and comfort and no reassurance to learn that he is suddenly a trainee instead of a prisoner. The House of Representatives, while spelling the policy of Education Centres as being that of reforming offenders and to make them better citizens, did not at the same time specify what this reformation and training should be. That was a matter for the administrators of Education Centres to decide, and, thus far, what they have said they want to do bears little relation to what has actually been done. For a minority of `trainees' (as prisoners and called in Zanzibar), training and treatment may at least be intended to fit them to lead a good and useful life on discharge. But for the majority, training is virtually non-existent, and training consists in nothing else but discipline of a more or less repressive kind. Education centres have proved a failure, not only because it lacks qualified personnel and facilities to transform its policies into reality, but also because, the socio-economic relations which groomed the institution of prisons has not changed. We think a true reformation should start with the system and not the individual. Our work consists of five chapters. Chapter One contains the introduction, literature review and methodology. Chapter two is about the history of imprisonment, Chapter three deals with the policy and structure of the Educat ion Centres, Chapter four is a 1ook within the Education Centres, specifically at Kilimani Education Centre and Chapter five is our conclusion.
Available in print form
Criminals, Rehabilitation, Zanzibar
Sanze, J. W. (1993) Reformation of offenders: a case of Zanzibar education centres, 1972-1992, Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (