Microsoft to aid and abet Dubai prisoners

The government in Dubai has asked Microsoft to provide technology training to prison inmates, in a bid to help them find worthwhile jobs when they are released. The training programme is being carried out in partnership with Dubai Police Department.

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By  Peter Branton Published  June 19, 2005

The government in Dubai has asked Microsoft to provide technology training to prison inmates, in a bid to help them find worthwhile jobs when they are released. The training programme is being carried out in partnership with Dubai Police Department. As part of the first phase of the project, dubbed Ta’aheel, Microsoft will provide IT training to members of the Dubai Police, who in turn will pass on the acquired skills to the inmates. Amna Al-Nakhi, Microsoft South Gulf’s academic programme and community affairs manager, said that training police to be trainers would make it easier to run the project long-term than training prisoners directly. “We wanted it to be sustainable, and training batches of prisoners would make that harder to do,” she said. The aim is to provide prisoners with skills equivalent to the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) certification, she said, with inmates being encouraged to sit for certification on their release. The scheme is part of Microsoft’s global programme for community development, the Unlimited Potential programme. The training will be conducted for five hours a day for a period of two months, and contains eight modules, including digital media, internet, web design and word processing modules. “The technology training programme is a reflection of the eGovernment’s commitment to break down the digital divide and ensure that the benefits of technology reach as wide a section of the population as possible,” said Salem Al Shair, eServices director, Dubai eGovernment, in a statement announcing the scheme. “Many inmates regress into the world of crime after their release due to their inability to find any respectable means to keep themselves occupied. Bringing the inmates within the IT sphere will bring them back into the social fold and help them lead a normal life upon their release by making use of the gathered skills to re-engage with society,” he claimed. Such schemes are not uncommon in other parts of the world, for instance Cisco Systems is heavily involved in a training programme for prisoners in the UK.

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