The Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), has registered at least 895 inmates for the National Examination Council of Nigeria (NECO) external examinations at its Enugu State command in the last 10 years.
Mr Kelvin Iloafonsi, Desk Officer of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) at the Enugu Custodial Special Study Centre, gave the figure when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Enugu.
Iloafonsi, an Assistant Controller of Corrections, noted that from July 11, 2011, when study centre got approval to begin operations, it had raised the educational level of inmates from primary school to university level.
He noted that staff of the desk office had helped to prepare inmates who sat for both First School Leaving Certificate and O’Level certificates to attain exceptional results.
“At the beginning in 2011, we went from cell to cell to appeal to inmates to regard education as a reformatory option and something beneficial to them in and outside of the custodial centre.
“Inmates used to say they’d go to school after they have regained freedom.
“Ten years down the line, the special study centre is now the bedrock of the reformatory service of the NCOs, especially at the Enugu State Command.
“The NCoS has committed resources to ensure that inmates develop themselves academically while in custody to ensure self-reliance after leaving the custodial centre,’’ he said.
Iloafonsi noted that the study centre was doing well in its educational endeavours supported by reputable humanitarian and inmates’ welfare organisations.
“The partnership with these organisations has led to free-of-charge schooling at various levels and most inmates are jostling to be part of the programme notwithstanding limited space available.
“I must thank Isaac-Blessing Foundation, Carmelite Prisoners Interest Organisation; the Anglican Communion, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, Ikeoha Foundation, Pribola Foundation, Prison Ministry and Young African Leaders’ Initiative, among others.
“These organisations have ensured that inmates studying at the centre are free of financial pain and burden of education as everything is made free for them,” he said.
He said the centre got excellent results at NECO examinations between 2016 and 2021.
“This explains why our NOUN admission kept increasing on geometrical progression.
“NECO external examination by the centre keeps increasing yearly with initial 27 students in 2012 to 75 registered students in 2014.
“We had 94 registered students in 2015; 106 students in 2016; 79 students in 2017; 126 students in 2018; 121 students in 2019; 114 students in 2020 and 120 students in 2021,’’ he added.
On July 6, the study centre held matriculation for 120 inmates who gained admission into the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
Eleven inmates also got their first degree certificates presented by NOUN’s Director, Enugu Special Study Centre, Prof. Alexander Omiya, on the same day.