By Victoria Onehi
65 inmates have graduated from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) the Director, Correctional Service Special Study Centre of NOUN Mr. Francis Enobore, has said.
Enobore who disclosed this during a courtesy visit to the Controller-General of Corrections, Haliru Nababa on Wednesday in Abuja noted that out of the 28,740 students that graduated recently from the university, 65 were inmates, including 7 who had Postgraduate degrees.
In a statement by the Public Relations Officer of Of Nigerian Correctional Service Umar Abubakar, Enobore therefore called on sub-national governments and well-meaning Nigerians to support the free education policy of NOUN for prisoners in order to enhance sustainable reintegration on discharge.
The Director stated that the cardinal objective of NOUN is to take quality education to the doorstep of every Nigerian, to learn at his own convenience and pace. This, he observed, is critical to upscaling the much-needed human capacity development for societal growth. He stated that NOUN considered the peculiar circumstances of persons behind bars and the limitations in accessing social services hence, the university graciously granted free tuition to inmates to enable them benefit from the unique learning opportunity provided by the institution.
He therefore appealed to State Chief Executives and well-meaning Nigerians, including corporate bodies to support NOUN initiatives, which has helped many indigent prisoners to access education even to doctorate level free of charge.
“NOUN programme runs on e-education system. Therefore, provision of computers, reliable sources of power, access to internet and other sundry requirements are critical in 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,” he stressed.
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. He expressed delight in the quality of work in the recently rehabilitated facilities soon to be commissioned as special study centres.
Prof. Olugbenga Ojo, the Director Examinations and Assessment, praised the rare commitment of the Controller General in providing conducive atmosphere for quality education for staff and inmates to thrive in Nigerian Correctional Service.
The CG, in his welcome address, congratulated the Director on his appointment and charged him to maintain his track record of dedication to duty and drive for excellence. He thanked the University authorities for the free tuition programme for inmates, which, he stated, has brought hope to indigent prisoners. He noted that the scheme has provided a rare opportunity for productive engagement of inmates in activities that guarantee socio-economic inclusiveness on discharge.
He 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. He promised to facilitate the establishment of more university study centres within the year to increase inmates access to the educational package.
The CG pleaded that vocational skills acquisition courses should be re-introduced in the university as it stands to benefit the bulk of the inmates who are mostly uneducated. He noted that since the Correctional Service give training to prisoners in a plethora of vocational trades, complementing the effort with a university certificate will not only boost their interest but also increase employment prospects.
Commissioned in 2012, NOUN special study centres in Correctional Service, was primarily designed to meet the rehabilitation needs of prisoners as well as staff members. It has, since inception, produced 74 graduates (inmates) in various fields, including master degree holders, while 5 are presently undergoing doctorate programmes. Presently, the Service has a total of 12 study centres with 1,410 inmates (students) population undergoing different courses.
Mr. Enobore was, until his retirement in May 2022, the National Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Correctional Service. He is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relation, Associate member, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators and an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.