News of prisoners making good grades might come to many as a surprise, but that’s the story at the Nsawam Prisons where officials who put up a makeshift school managed to send 16 inmates to the university. An even greater number of them qualified but were unable to make it because they’re still serving their term.

Joy News’ Etornam Sey reports that eleven (11) inmates sat for the 2010 WASSCE examinations and all of them qualified for the university, in 2011 ten (10) inmates sat for the examinations and eight (8) of them qualified for the university, and in 2012 eighteen (18) inmates wrote the WASSCE and sixteen (16) passed. The success rate for the BECE is even higher.

However, DSP Courage Atsem, Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prisons Service, says because the prison authorities do not have the mandate to release any inmate based on their brilliant performance at the BECE, the Prison Administration has also introduced Senior High School education so that inmates who do well at the BECE can continue to the senior high level.

16 candidates out of 150 who passed the tutelage at the senior high level at the Nsawam Prisons are currently admitted into various government universities across the country. There are currently 134 qualified inmates waiting to enter the university.

Deputy Director of the Nsawam Male Prisons, Ackom Gyedu Kwame is optimistic that with the adequate resources, the Prisons can churn out more university products. According to him, it is important to ensure that inmates, who are predominantly made up of the youth, come out as better persons after serving out their years—and education offers them that opportunity.

The Prison also runs a JHS class as well as a non-formal education class for the illiterate inmates. Teachers at the prison include inmates waiting to either be convicted or discharged, Prison Officers who are teachers, and some National Service personnel. These teachers are not paid salaries, but are given ‘facilitation’ or ‘motivation’ packages to spur them on in their teaching endeavours.

Inmates who prefer to work are trained either in carpentry, masonry, shoemaking, tailoring, block making among others. The female prisons also trains inmates in vocations such as soap making, batik tie-and-dye, bread making and several others.

Prisons authorities say they are working out a plan that will provide distant tertiary education for inmates who pass their WASSCE and qualify to enter the various tertiary institutions but cannot go because they are still serving their sentences.