No fewer than 72 prisoners of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, Abuja has joined the National Open University, NOUN, to study undergraduate programmes.
The enrollment was said to be part of the mandate of NCos in collaboration with the school to ensure that the prisoners are reformed particularly as regards academic pursuits.
Addressing the matriculating prisoners on Thursday, the Vice-Chancellor, NOUN, Olufemi Peters, urged the students to make use of their study materials judiciously.
The VC who was represented by the National Coordinator, Special Studies, NOUN, Modupe Adesina, described the collaboration between NOUN and NCoS as very smooth.
According to him, NOUN remains the largest in Africa, and the only accredited single-mode Open and Distance Learning Institution in Nigeria.
“We have 12 study centres that are for inmates. We have 970 students from Correctional centres nationwide and we have graduated 42 inmates across the nation since 2012. We have five people enrolled for PhD programmes and still counting. We produced the best graduating students in 2014 in Enugu. And when you look at their results, they have been very studious, very eager to graduate with the best result,” he said.
Peters urged the public to encourage the federal government by employing the graduated inmates in the society to help them keep up with their lives outside the Correctional Centres, adding that the efforts of the government should be embraced as the inmates were fully sponsored to acquire the certificates from the University.
“The efforts of the government and the university should be encouraged. This is not a joke. The environment and society at large should embrace students coming from NOUN, particularly inmates from correctional centres. If they are out, that means they have most likely been reformed. Education goes a lot to open their mind and make them what the society requires. A lot of them are gifted, they have gone beyond going to school, they have acquired several skills and not in any way lesser than anyone out there,” he said.
The VC expressed the determination of the university toward ensuring that the newly admitted students were provided with an excellent learning environment with a view to making their study rewarding and satisfactory.
He further urged them to desist from all forms of anomalies such as cultism, sexual harassment among others that exist in the conventional university, saying that NOUN was not a regular University.
In the same vein, The FCT Controller, NCoS, Ahmed Musa, noted that the NCoS had continued to deliver on this mandate through a plethora of academic and vocational skills acquisition, as well as psycho-social support programmes for inmates.
Musa stressed that the significance of the occasion could not be overemphasised as it underscored the very core of the mandate of the NCoS, adding that it is to reform and rehabilitate those in its care and subsequently reintegrate them into the society.
According to him, it is worthy of note that changing the behaviour and orientation of persons in conflict with the law and putting them on the right path is no mean task.
“The Kuje Custodial Centre has always been outstanding in academic exploits. Since the command embraced education as a foremost means of reformation in 2010, the centre has recorded over 850 students who have sat for their WAEC and NECO exams. Over 750 inmates passing outstandingly with over five credits, which include maths and English. With the advent of the National Open University, the centre has registered over a hundred students and also graduated about 10 BSc and one Master’s degree student,” he said.
Musa urged the matriculating students as well as the returning students not to let the service down and to be outstanding in their chosen academic fields, noting that the centre had about 32 inmates who were presently sitting for their WAEC and NECO exams.