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NOUN advocates free access to education for prisoners

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Francis Enobore, the director of the National Open University of Nigeria’s (NOUN) Correctional Service Special Study Centre, has urged well-meaning Nigerians and sub-national governments to support the NOUN’s free education policy for prisoners to promote sustainable reintegration after release.

Enobore made this call on Tuesday in Abuja when he paid a visit to Haliru Nababa, the Controller-General of the Nigerian Prisons Service.

In 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 learnt, 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.

To improve inmates’ access to the educational program, he pledged to promote the opening of more university study centres within the coming year.

The Correctional Service’s NOUN special study centres were established in 2012 with the primary goal of addressing the requirements of both staff members and detainees in terms of rehabilitation.

Since it started, it has produced 74 alumni (inmates) in a range of fields, including those with master’s degrees. Five of these graduates are currently enrolled in doctoral programs. The service now has 1,410 prisoners (students) enrolled in various courses across 12 study centres.

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