A Call for Education Fund for Prison Inmates
Education of prison inmates has become central in fulfilling the mandates of the Nigerian Prisons Service. Having realized that many inmates in prison custody lack requisite education, engaging them academically behind bars presents a leeway for them to prepare for a successful livelihood upon release.
This form of education has improved the service delivery by the Nigerian Prisons Service as it has helped in the safe custody of inmates as well as in their reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration back to the society.
This noble initiative which has been widely accepted by prisons inmates has motivated the Service to appropriate more funds aimed at improving the standard of education in our Prison and Nigeria in general.
It is no longer news that different forms of education are offered in various prisons nationwide, ranging from Adult Literacy Education, Post Literacy Education, Vocational and Skills Acquisition Training, Basic Education, Senior Secondary Education and even University Education! Consequently, the Service is in partnership with examination bodies and other educational institutions such as the
National Examination Council (NECO), West African Examination Council
(WAEC), Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), the National Board for Technical Education (NABTEB), and the National Open
University of Nigeria (NOUN). This partnership has culminated into the
establishment of special examination centres in Prisons Facilities across the country where inmates sit for these examinations.
Interestingly, there are NOUN Special Centres spread across different
Prison facilities in the country where prison inmates can study the courses of their choice. This has greatly improved the quality of inmates in terms of character and learning as imprisonment is no longer an impediment to achieving one’s life goals.
And the Nigerian Prisons Service is better for it as the rate of recidivism, jailbreaks and other bad news which use to be the trademark of our prisons have now declined drastically.
Again, the Prisons Farm Centres which are veritable tools for inmates’
education have received tremendous attention from the present Controller General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed. Almost all of the farms have been revamped and resuscitated with state-of-the-art machines and other equipment to make farming easy and attractive to the prison inmates who are mostly youths. These Farm Centres which are spread in all the geopolitical zones of Nigeria are now mechanized, providing an avenue for their inmates to learn modern farming skills and
techniques. Also, there is increase in harvest and productivity from these farms as they have since formed the core of the Agricultural revolution of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
With these opportunities to improve themselves intellectually and skills-wise, prison inmates are no longer redundant as was the case in the past when they are fed and catered for with taxpayers’ money, only for them to idle away, awaiting the expiration of their prison terms.
Now, they are engaged functionally to justify the huge amounts that
government spends on them. Hence, they are improving their persons and
contributing to national development right in the prison. It is also a fact that inmates’ education has improved the safety of our prisons, since it has mitigated tendencies of violence, crisis and escape from lawful custody.
However, providing education in prison comes with numerous challenges
most especially funding. Education is capital intensive and requires huge funding to meet with the plethora of needs for a sound academic environment. Owing to their disadvantaged condition, prison inmates are provided with everything they need to study free-of-charge ranging from writing materials, textbooks and even registration fees for
external examinations. Hence, relying on budget allocations to fund inmates’ education will not create the desired impact because government is already overburdened by inmates feeding, facility upgrade and expansion.
It is therefore pertinent to create a Prison Inmates Education Fund, a
special fund that will complement the Federal Government’s effort towards providing education to inmates as obtained in other climes.
This Fund would create a platform for State Governments, Corporate
Organizations, Financial institutions, Universities, Non-Governmental
Organizations, Philanthropist and Religious bodies to contribute to
The special Fund should be able to provide scholarships to inmates
willing to study while in custody, fund their registration for the various examinations, provide classes and other buildings, and make available learning and teaching facilities. The fund should also provide starter packs to inmates who have learned vocational trades as well as technical skills. This will create sustainability and expand
opportunities for a large number of inmates.
Recently, the National Open University of Nigerian declared free education for all inmates willing to obtain university education up to doctorate degree while in custody. This is a very welcomed
development; but this is not enough as it does not handle it all in this sector. The Inmates Education Fund when created will help define the role various stakeholders will play in funding education in Prison. The State Governments can include Prisons in their State Basic Education Programmes which will provide infrastructures and learning
materials for the prisons in their states. Multinational Corporations such Dangote Group, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Globacom Limited, Coca Cola Nigeria etc. should be talked into providing funds as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that will sustain inmates’ education since the safety of our prisons and the proper
rehabilitation of inmates will create a secured and enabling environment for their businesses to strive. Conventional Universities on the other hand should provide scholarships for ex-convicts whose conducts are attested to by the Prisons authorities to be good.
The Fund should be able to create a pool of stakeholders who will periodically come together to review the successes of their investments in inmates education and identify further areas for intervention. This will ensure accountability and sustainable funding
of the scheme.
Inmates Education Fund remains the sure way of pooling resources and
expertise to achieve a secured society where all and sundry will live without fear of victimization by criminals.
DSP Luka Ayedoo
Command Public Relations Officer
Nigerian Prisons Service
Plateau State Command