The University has matriculated 59 inmates of the Nsawam Medium Security Prison in the Eastern Region who have been admitted to pursuing their studies through the College of Distance Education (CoDE).
Out of the total number, 32 are pursuing Diploma in Education(Junior High School) whiles 19 are studying Diploma in Commerce (Management option) and eight opted for the Diploma in Commerce (Accounting option).
The extension of tertiary education to the doorstep of prison inmates is the first time in Ghana. The initiative is funded by Plan Volta Foundation under the Prisons Inmates Tertiary Education Programme (PITEP).
In his address at the ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah said that UCC extended tertiary education to inmates of the Prison in line with its mission as an equal opportunity university. “The University of Cape Coast is an equal opportunity university uniquely placed to provide quality education through the provision of comprehensive, liberal and professional programmes that challenge learners to be creative, innovative and responsible citizens” he stated.
Prof. Ampiah said that the intervention by the University in collaboration with Plan Volta Foundation and the Ghana Prisons Service was timely since it would adequately prepare inmates to come out as better persons and contribute significantly to the development of the country. “The diplomas they will acquire will make them better individuals. The education they will not only help them academically but also affect their character positively.
On the future of the programme, Prof. Ampiah said the University would in the future organise access course for inmates above 25 years and enrol them as mature students. He called on the pioneer class of the programme to be committed to their studies in order to complete successfully.
Prof. Ampiah informed the students that there was a tall list of convicts who pursued tertiary education and later became great assets to the society. “Let this give you hope that anybody can overcome hurdles and become prominent,” he advised. He further advised them to utilise the opportunity to be better citizens and wished them God’s grace to complete their studies and graduate successfully.
The Vice-Chancellor was grateful to Plan Volta Foundation for funding the programme and called on philanthropists, government and other organisations to support the University to extend tertiary education to all prisons in the country.
The Director-General of the Ghana Prisons Service, DOP Mr. Patrick Darko Missah, said efforts to introduce tertiary education to inmates had not been successful until the intervention by UCC and Plan Volta Foundation. He said education had an important role to play in the rehabilitation process. “The programme is a stepping stone for prisoners who suffer social exclusion to gain knowledge and enhance their skills as well as improve their employability and change their personal attitudes and perceptions to help them understand the reasons and consequences of their actions” he stressed. According to him, all these factors would go a long way to reduce their chances of reoffending,” he assured.
The President of Plan Volta Foundation, Mr. Prince Solomon Stuff, noted that the programme was a pilot project which formed part of the reformative package for inmates across major prisons in the regions of Ghana. He noted that the reformation package was made up of academic and vocational training.
Mr. Stuff who is also the Executive Director for the Prison Inmate Tertiary Education Programme (PITEP) said the motivation to initiate the project stemmed from Matthew 25:31-40 in the Bible which admonished Christians to reach out to prisoners to help and give them hope. “We also considered the fact that on their release, they will come back to our societies and they need to come back well reformed with required skills to contribute meaningfully to national development. This reformation would go a long way to prevent recidivism” he stated.
Mr. Stuff commended the University, especially the Vice-Chancellor and the Provost of CoDE, Prof. Isaac Galyuon for the key roles they played to ensure the successful commencement of the programme. He appealed to philanthropists, religious bodies, corporate organisations and civil society to offer financial support in order to sustain the programme and extend it to other prisons in Ghana and other West African countries.
The Director of Academic Affairs, Mr. Jeff T. Onyame, on behalf of the Registrar, administered the matriculation oath to the students. Present were the Dean of Students’ Affairs, Prof. Eugene K. Maafo Darteh, College Registrar, CoDE, Mr. Eliot Nyieku and, some Unit heads and senior members from CoDE.