Speaking at the graduation ceremony of 446 Control Room Operators held in Cullinan, north of Pretoria, Commissioner Smalberger said professionalising the public service is a top priority for government.
"According to the White Paper on Corrections, the ideal Correctional Official should embody the values that the Department of Correctional Services hopes to instil in the offender, as it is this official who is to assist and facilitate the rehabilitation processes of the offender.
"An attitude of serving with excellence, a principled way of relating to others and above all, a just and caring attitude are essential ingredients of the makeup of a correctional official. Nothing less is expected from you," Commissioner Smalberger said.
The Professional Council of Corrections will be responsible for ensuring:
Competent correctional officials are produced through effective registration and continuous professional development;
Appropriate development of correctional practitioners through the accreditation of educational institutions and education programmes, and regulation of practice by investigating complaints and disciplinary processes; and
Registration of correction practitioners that are recognised when measured against international standards and the development of relevant standards for identification of correctional work and regulation.
Smalberger said according to the National Development Plan (NDP), the public service is key to the State's main objective of improving the lives of all South Africans.
The Department of Correctional Services is reputed to be one department that has enrolled the highest number of youth in the Learnership Programme.
"We have also employed the most number of learners. We have undertaken to do our best to keep this leading position, as we continue to strengthen the capacity and responsiveness of our department to the needs of the people of South Africa," he said.
Since the 2010/11 financial year, over 4 000 unemployed learners were enrolled in the Corrections Services Learnership Programme and 76% of them were absorbed as permanent correctional officials.
According to Smalberger, each Learnership Programme intake costs the department approximately R11.5 million.
The amount excludes payment of stipends, which amounts to R43.3 million as each learner receives R3 500 per month.
Commissioner Smalberger said the stipend will be increased to R4 000 for the next internship and learnership intake.
The current group commenced with their Learnership Programme in February and is undergoing experiential learning at various correctional centres across the country.