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NOUN And Prisoners’ Education

Posted: May 22, 2016 at 6:17 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


The recent announcement by the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to offer free education for prisoners in the country is a positive development, as this would afford incarcerated persons access to university education, in accordance with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s policy on education that stipulates that everyone must have a right to quality education that meets basic learning and enriches lives.

We commend NOUN, for accepting the reality that most prisoners are young people, who as a result of a deviant lifestyle, have fallen short of the law at a time in their lives when the level of education they have, cannot allow them live a decent life after they are released. By this decision the institution is also actualising the stance of the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960) and other international human rights treaties, which prohibit any exclusion from or limitation to educational opportunities, on the bases of socially ascribed or perceived differences.

The decision is also in line with the Mission statement of NOUN that positions it “to provide functional, cost-effective, flexible learning, which adds life-long value to quality education for all who seek knowledge” and its vision that makes it seek “To be regarded as the foremost University, providing highly accessible and enhanced quality education anchored by social justice, equity, equality and national cohesion through a comprehensive reach that transcends all barriers.” Certainly this is an assurance that prison inmates who are students of NOUN would have access to quality education.

In other climes, an opportunity to acquire a university education has been found to help improve self-esteem and also motivate studious inmates who are undergraduates to improve upon their learning skills and acquire a life-affirming enterprise. Besides, a study assessing the costs and benefits of in-prison education in the United Kingdom has shown that investing in prison education and training is worth the while and the investments made more than justified. Lack of exposure and experience has usually been identified as having negative psychological influences, causing lingering poor financial expectations and a depressing impact on employment opportunities, resulting in frustration and re-offending among prisoners.

The Federal Government needs to support NOUN’s initiative by funding it and giving all the necessary assistance. In the same vein, the corporate world should also support this programme as a form of corporate social responsibility, bearing in mind that their contribution is cheaper than the social costs of crime for the victim, the society, the economy, the offender and relatives of both the victim and the offender.


However NOUN must ensure that the educational opportunities within the programme will allow prisoners meet their individual aspirations technically and academically, so as to improve their employability, social inclusion and re-integration into the society. We also hope that the education given to the inmates by NOUN will be in tandem with the needs of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to ensure that graduates from the programme will be employable or be in a position to add value to society by creating employment themselves after their term.

One question that readily comes to mind is where the education site will be; considering the public funds that will be needed each day to take such a student to and from a Study Centre outside the prison premises and the fact that it will not be in the interest of public security, if an inmate who has not changed his mind-set about living a life of crime, is allowed in and out of prison for purposes of acquiring education.

Nevertheless, it is expected that many prison inmates will avail themselves of this golden chance, since there seems to be a strong interplay between education, criminal behaviour and recidivism. And the NOUN curriculum must ensure the student-inmate is placed on the path to proper rehabilitation and assimilation into the society after imprisonment.