A total of fifty-one/51 Prisoners from the Nation’s Prisons who sat for the 2023 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) across the country have excelled massively by recording a hundred percent pass with remarkable grades, and currently in the Senior High Schools reading their preferred programmes.

They comprised 26 juveniles from the Senior Correctional Centre (SCC), 9 inmates from the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, 8 inmates for the Kumasi Central Prison, 4 from Ankaful Maximum Security and 4 from the Sunyani Central Prisons.

The Ghana Prisons Service, in its quest to deliver on its reformation and rehabilitation mandate in line with modern universal best practices, introduced inmates to formal education in the early ninetieth century, offering subjects such asEnglish, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.

Formal education gained its popularity in the prisons in 2007 with the support for Center for National Distance Learning and Opening Schooling (CENDLOS), and the Ghana Education Fund (GETFUND). It is important to note that the inmate students have also, over the years, justified the investments being made in their education as they continue to churn out remarkable results by recording 100 percent passes in BECE and WASSCE.

The educational programmes which are run by the Service include: 

▪   University of Cape Coast Distance Programme

▪   Senior High Schools system

▪   Junior High Schools system

▪   NVTI/ICT and Proficiency for Tradesmen

▪   Energy Commission Training and CTVET Electrical Certification Programme.

According to the Director-General of Prisons, Mr. Isaac Kofi Egyir, prisoner education is one of the surest and safest ways the Service has prioritized over the years to reform prisoners and provide a better living for them upon their release. ‘It is worthy to note that there is a drastic reduction in recidivism rates for those prisoners who participate in prison education programs, thereby reducing the recidivism rate in our prisons to the barest minimum’, Mr. Egyir stated.

He mentioned that, even for those who are serving lengthy sentences, prison education has profound and often life-changing benefit such as a substantial reduction in violence and disciplinary infractions, breaking down religious and ethnic barriers that sometimes creates tension in prisons, significantly improving relations between officers and the prisoners and drastically enhancing the prisoners’ self-esteem.

Mr. Isaac Egyir noted that the impact of education goes well beyond the walls of the prisons themselves, extending into the home communities of the incarcerated students. “Studies show, for instance, that postsecondary prison education has many positive effects on the children of the incarcerated, offering a chance to break the intergenerational cycle of inequality and incarceration. The prison administration has put measures in place to continue to extend its unflinching support to them to develop these acquired skills to prepare them adequately for life after prison”, he added.

The Service, in partnership with the University of Cape Coast and Plan Volta Foundation, introduced the University of Cape Coast Distance Learning Programme which provides tertiary Education for prison inmates of the Nsawam Medium Security and Nsawam Female prisons who have excelled in their WASSCE over the years. This will soon be extended to the other prisons across the country.

Currently, 162 prisoners have been enrolled in the College of Distance Education (University of Cape Coast) to study a Bachelor of Education with specialization in (English and Social Studies) or (mathematics and science), and a Bachelor of Commerce with specialization in (Accounting and Management). 

To break the Camel’s back, some 8 juveniles who successfully completed Senior High School whiles in detention at the Senior Correctional Centre between the year 2020 and 2022 are pursuing various programs at University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, University of Energy in Sunyani, University of Professional Studies in Accra and the Accra, Ho and Koforidua Technical Universities.

For the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI), the Service has currently enrolled 359 inmates comprising 299 adult prisoners and 60 juveniles. All 57 juveniles and 30 prisoners who sat for the NVTI proficiency examination in 2023, excelled. They were examined in basketry, weaving, dressmaking, batik tie and dye and hairdressing. 

The Service has also collaborated with the Energy Commission of Ghana to provide prison inmates with skills in conducting internal electrical wiring through training and certification.

It is instructive to note that the Ghana Prisons Service has the requisite human resource to move prisoners’ education to a higher level, given the necessary logistics and financial support. It is in this vein that I wish to call on all corporate bodies, philanthropists and individuals to support this worthy cause with needed educational materials such as computers, text books, exercise books, past questions and many more to make prisoners’ education and other reformative and rehabilitative programmes of the Ghana Prisons Service a success.

Remember the popular quote by the renowned French poet and novelist Victor Hugo, “HE WHO OPENS A SCHOOL DOOR CLOSES A PRISON”.

Report by: DSP. Irene Pokuah Wiredu

Public Relations Unit

Prisons Headquarters.

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