The Director of the Correctional Service Special Study Centre of the National Open University of Nigeria, Francis Enobore, has called on sub-national governments and well-meaning Nigerians to support the free education policy of the NOUN for prisoners to enhance sustainable reintegration upon discharge.
Enobore made this call during a courtesy visit to the Controller-General of Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to a statement signed by the NCoS Spokesperson, Abubakar Umar, the Director stated that the cardinal objective of NOUN is to bring quality education to the doorstep of every Nigerian, allowing them to learn at their convenience and pace.
This, he observed, is critical to upscaling the much-needed human capacity development for societal growth.
Enobore stated that NOUN considered the peculiar circumstances of people behind bars and the limitations in accessing social services; hence, the university graciously granted free tuition to inmates to enable them to benefit from the unique learning opportunity provided by the institution.
He noted that out of the 28,740 students who graduated recently from the university, 65 were inmates, including 7 who had postgraduate degrees.
The Director appealed to state chief executives and well-meaning Nigerians, including corporate bodies, to support NOUN initiatives, which have helped many indigent prisoners access education, even up to the doctorate level, free of charge.
He noted, “The NOUN programme runs on an e-education system. Therefore, the provision of computers, reliable sources of power, access to the internet, and other sundry requirements are critical to facilitating learning.
We must note that the character of an ex-convict is more often than not a reflection of the quality and relevance of the training and reformation package he received while in incarceration.”
The director commended the CG for placing inmates’ education on the front burner, noting that access to education remains a veritable tool for enduring offenders’ reformation and rehabilitation.
The Director of Examinations and Assessment, Prof. Olugbenga Ojo, praised the rare commitment of the Controller General to providing a conducive atmosphere for quality education for staff and inmates to thrive in the Nigerian Correctional Service.
Nababa, in his welcome address, thanked the university authorities for the free tuition programme for inmates, which, he stated, has brought hope to indigent prisoners.
The CG stated that his administration is irrevocably committed to providing credible platforms that will support comprehensive reformation and rehabilitation of offenders in his custody; hence, the robust attention given to education for inmates.
He promised to facilitate the establishment of more university study centres within the year to increase inmates’ access to the educational package.
Commissioned in 2012, NOUN special study centres in the Correctional Service were primarily designed to meet the rehabilitation needs of prisoners as well as staff members.
Since its inception, it has produced 74 graduates (inmates) in various fields, including master’s degree holders, while five are presently undergoing doctorate programmes. Presently, the service has a total of 12 study centres with 1,410 inmates (students) undergoing different courses.