A major hurdle prison inmates face with regards to furthering their education while serving their sentences has been finally addressed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ghana Prisons Service and Plan Volta Foundation to allow long-term serving inmates to enroll onto the University of Cape Coast’s Distance Learning Program for higher education.
The Prisons Service in a bid to achieve its reformative and rehabilitative mandate seeks to roll-out the programme for inmates to gain skills training and education before leaving custody so as to maintain a descent livelihood after their release.
The MOU which will be effective for one year from the date of its execution was signed by Mr Patrick Darko Missah, Director-General Ghana Prisons; and witnessed by Director of Prisons, Mr Kwame Kuma Kpeli whilst Mr Prince Solomon Stoff, Executive Director Plan Volta Foundation signed and witnessed Mr Goka Calvin Delali, Plan Volta Administrator.
According to the MOU, Plan Volta will spearhead consultations with the University of Cape Coast (UCC) to introduce and establish the Distance Learning Program being run by UCC’s College of Distance Education (CODE) to inmates aspiring to undergo tertiary education.
The programme will be piloted at the Nsawam Prisons and later be replicated in other prisons.
The agreement will give inmates the opportunity to read two, three, and five years degree programme in Business Commerce with options in Human Resource Management, Marketing, Accounting, Finance, Procurement and Management Studies or a three-year Diploma in Business Commerce with the same options as its degree programme.
Inmates can also read a three-year Degree in Education with options in Early Childhood Education, Basic Education, Junior High School Education and Mathematics Education or a three-year Diploma in Education with the same options as its degree programme.
According to the MOU, interested inmates who do not have the requisite qualification to be enrolled on the programme will first of all go through an access course to prepare and write a special entrance examination before they are integrated into the tertiary programme with the Ghana Prisons Service.
This programme shall be piloted for one year starting from the 2019/2020 academic year and upon successful completion, it will then be replicated in all ‘Central Prisons’ in the country.
According to the MoU courses to be run under the programme would all be theory without practicals and shall be carried out only on weekends at a time to be agreed on by the parties in the time table provided for the purpose.
The access course and the programme shall be led by facilitators from UCC and the number of facilitators shall be determined depending on the number of inmates who qualify and are admitted. It will be run in accordance with a timetable and curriculum.
Opportunity will be given to foreigners who want to be enrolled onto the programme, but these foreigners are supposed to complete the programme before the expiration of their prison sentence. Inmates who successfully complete the Diploma and or Degree programme shall be awarded with certificates by UCC.
With a letter of consent from the Ghana Prisons Service, Plan Volta Foundation would facilitate the fund raising for both the access course and programme, whiles the Ghana Prisons Service will be responsible for providing classroom facilities for the access course and the programme, select inmates to write the special entrance examination for the higher education programme and supervise, as well as monitor the progress of inmates selected for access course sessions and the programme.
Plan Volta will based on UCC’s modules to prepare selected inmates towards writing the University’s special entrance examination in the prisons, as well as bear the cost of the preparation towards writing of the special entrance examination and the programme, together with every other financial implications associated with the MoU.
Again, Plan Volta will facilitate the extension of the access course and the programme to the inmates in Nsawam Prison and ensure the continuation of the studies by an inmate in case that inmate is discharged from the prison but has not yet completed the course.
According to the MoU, Plan Volta will provide inmates who successfully pass the special entrance examination and are enrolled for the tertiary programme with text books, note books, exercise books, pens and all other materials needed for the program free of charge.
The MoU mandates the establishment of a Joint Management Committee comprising nine members of which five shall be nominated by the Prisons Service, and the other four shall be nominated by Plan Volta Foundation.