Ten inmates of the Nsawam Maximum Security Prison and the Kumasi Central Prison are to commence their tertiary education after they wrote and passed the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in November/December 2011.
Four of the inmates: two males and two females from the Kumasi Central Prison passed with distinction and qualified for admission to any university in Ghana, while six others have qualified for the polytechnics and the colleges of education.
However, because they cannot attend regular school due to their status as prisoners, the Prisons Service is collaborating with the Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CNDLOS), the Commonwealth of Learning and some universities in Ghana to roll out a distance learning programme that will lead to the award of diplomas and degrees in some of the country’s prisons.
The Officer in charge of Inmates Education at the Prisons Headquarters in Accra, Superintendent Afari Mintah, throwing light on the achievements of the 10 inmates, said they had been beneficiaries of the President’s Special Initiative on Distance Learning (PSIDL) which was introduced in some prisons in 2008.
He said prior to 2008, education at the prisons had been informal, with special emphasis on religion as a ‘tool’ to reform them, but the PSIDL (now CNDLOS) afforded the prisons Service an opportunity to kick-start formal education.
“We started with skills acquisition such as catering, hairdressing, carpentry, block-laying and basketry before we introduced junior high school (JHS) education,” Supt Mintah said.
The JHS education, he said, began on a pilot basis with 60 inmates from the Nsawam Medium Security, the Kumasi Central prisons and the Ankaful Main Camp, before it was extended to the Tamale Central and the Wa Central prisons. He added that the educational backgrounds of inmates were evaluated before they were put in the appropriate classrooms.
The inmates, he explained, were taught voluntarily by prison officers and other inmates who had the requisite knowledge in the various subjects.
“Some of the inmates have first degrees, while others have master’s degrees, so they help to teach the classes,” he said.
According to Supt Mintah,
“in 2010, the Prisons Service registered 35 adult prisoners and 20 juveniles from the Senior Correctional Facility for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and they all passed with aggregates between 11 and 24; some of them even gained admission to conventional senior high schools,”.