Prison worker wins International Literacy Day Award

6 September 2013

Rachel Bulliff Making a difference inside: Masters student Rachel Bulliff from the Department of Corrections wins an international literacy day award.

A University of Waikato masters student who is a senior adviser, prison training in the Department of Corrections, has won the 2013 International Literacy Day Award from the National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults based at the University of Waikato.

Rachel Bulliff, who is with the Department of Corrections in Wellington, works with the National Centre to embed literacy and numeracy into prison training programmes throughout New Zealand, and at the same time has been studying for her master’s degree in education.

The Centre works with educators and workplace trainers across a range of institutions, including the Department of Corrections.

Upskilling inmates

Embedded literacy and numeracy education is now delivered by prison instructors in sectors as diverse as horticulture, farming, laundries, painting, grounds maintenance, catering, engineering, printing, forestry, joinery, carpentry and construction.

As at June this year, 1690 prisoners had taken part in trades training education embedded with literacy and numeracy.

Rachel Bulliff says improving prisoner literacy and numeracy is one of the many initiatives helping Corrections reach its goal of reducing reoffending by 25% by 2017. She says some trainers were initially sceptical when they began the programme four years ago. “But we’re now on our ninth cohort…and because of the success inside prisons, we are now offering literacy and numeracy teaching skills to staff who are working with offenders in the community too.”

Making a difference

Nominees for the literacy day award must have made a notable contribution to the field of adult literacy and/or numeracy that has sector, regional or national significance. Professor Diana Coben, Director of the National Centre, said Rachel Bulliff was nominated several times over from representatives of the sector. “Her work is outstanding and her passion in this space is unequalled. She is a very worthy recipient.”

The National Centre’s award was announced at a function at the University last night, where Hamilton’s Les Roa, Managing Director of Longveld Engineering, gave a heartfelt account of his own literacy story and the enormous benefit to him and his company of acknowledging and addressing literacy and numeracy needs in the workplace.

It’s International Literacy Day on Sunday 8 September. The theme for this year is ‘Literacies for the 21st Century’.