All 51 prison inmates who sat the 2023 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) have gained admission to various pre-tertiary institutions in the country.
They obtained between aggregates 16 and 31 in the examination, guaranteeing them passage to the next level of the academic ladder.
They comprise 26 juveniles from the Senior Correctional Centre in Accra, nine inmates from the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, eight inmates from the Kumasi Central Prison, four from the Ankaful Maximum Security and four more from the Sunyani Central Prisons.
Thirteen of them, all juveniles, have since been discharged upon completing their terms, leaving 38 of the inmate SHS freshers still serving their terms.
It further leaves 13 of the juveniles still in prison custody.
Juvenile inmates are incarcerated for a maximum three years and a minimum three months.
In a statement signed by the Head of Media Relations of the Ghana Prisons Service, Deputy Superintendent of Prisons (DSP) Irene Pokuah Wiredu, the service said: “The inmate students have, over the years, justified the investments made in their education”.
The Daily Graphic checks further established that the juvenile inmates, including those now discharged, have since been placed at Mfantsipim Senior High School (SHS) in Cape Coast; Labone SHS, St Thomas Aquinas SHS, Accra Technical Training Centre, the Forces SHS, all in Accra; Tema Technical Institute, and the Agona Swedru Technical Institute, among other pre-tertiary institutions.
Serving juvenile inmates placed in the regular SHSs are escorted by prisons officers to and from school on a daily basis.
Adult inmates who wrote the BECE papers are, however, pursuing General Arts or Business at SHSs on the premises of the Prisons Service under the supervision of the Ghana Education Service.
The students enjoy the full package of the Free SHS initiative, receiving free tuition and feeding in addition to educational materials from the GES.
The statement said 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, where they offered subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.
“Formal education gained its popularity in the prisons in 2007, with the support of the Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling and the Ghana Education Trust Fund,” it added.
The statement quoted the Director-General of Prisons, Isaac Kofi Egyir, as saying that “prisoner education is one of the surest and safest ways the service had prioritised over the years to reform inmates and provide them with better living upon their release.’’
“It is worthy to note that there is a drastic reduction in the rate of recidivism (the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend) for the prisoners who participated in prison education programmes, thereby reducing the recidivism rate in the prisons to the barest minimum,” Mr Egyir stated.
“For those who are serving lengthy sentences, prison education has had a profound and often life-changing benefit on them such as a substantial reduction in violence and disciplinary infractions, breaking down religious and ethnic barriers that sometimes created tension in prisons, significantly improving relations between officers and the inmates, and enhancing the inmates’ self-esteem,” the statement further quoted the Director-General of Prisons.
Other educational projects
Beyond basic school and SHS, the Prisons Service, in partnership with the University of Cape Coast and the Plan Volta Foundation, has 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 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) over the years.
The educational programmes run by the service include University of Cape Coast Distance Programme, National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI)/ICT and Proficiency for Tradesmen, Energy Commission Training and CTVET Electrical Certification Programme.
These, the statement said, would soon be extended to the other prisons across the country.
Currently, it said, 162 prisoners had been enrolled in the College of Distance Education (University of Cape Coast) to study for a Bachelor of Education degree with specialisation in English Language and Social Studies or Mathematics and Science, and a Bachelor of Commerce with specialisation in Accounting and Management.
About eight juveniles, who successfully completed SHS while in detention at the Senior Correctional Centre between 2020 and 2022, are pursuing various programmes at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani, the University of Professional Studies, Accra, and the Technical universities of Accra, Ho and Koforidua, among others.