In­mates al­lowed to con­tinue stud­ies through dis­tance learn­ing and ma­tric­u­la­tion ex­ams

The Myanmar Times - - News - EI SHWE PHYU news­room@mm­times.com

PRISON bars are not pre­vent­ing some in­mates from re­ceiv­ing a univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion. This year’s in­take at the Univer­sity of Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion will in­clude nine stu­dents cur­rently serv­ing terms at Yan­gon’s In­sein Prison.

This year, 11 of the 19 In­sein prison­ers who sat the ma­tric­u­la­tion exam passed and two were sub­se­quently re­leased.

“Pass­ing the exam doesn’t mean they earn their free­dom. But we will give prison­ers a chance to join higher ed­u­ca­tion,” prison deputy di­rec­tor U Myo Oo told The Myan­mar Times in a re­cent in­ter­view.

“Last year we launched a pro­gram for prison­ers who had ma­tric­u­lated to study at the Univer­sity of Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

In the 2015 aca­demic year, 17 prison­ers at In­sein Cen­tral Prison took the ma­tric­u­la­tion exam, and seven passed and were ac­cepted by the Univer­sity of Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion. The prison pass rate was higher than the na­tional av­er­age last year.

“Six of those seven have now been re­leased. The one re­main­ing in­mate is study­ing Myan­mar lan­guage at the Univer­sity of West Yan­gon,” said U Myo Oo.

Since 2006, three pris­ons – In­sein Cen­tral, Man­dalay Cen­tral and Thayawady Cen­tral – have been of­fer­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­mates.

The first prison­ers to pass ma­tric­u­la­tion ex­ams, in 2014, were Ko Hein Htet and Ko Myo Nyunt Oo. They were jailed for rob­bing K164 mil­lion (US$135,000) from a house in In­sein town­ship and had served more than two years by the time they passed the exam. They later con­tin­ued their stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion.

This year, 101 prison­ers at In­sein Prison, 31 at Man­dalay and 22 from Thayawady are en­gaged in ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to the of­fice of the di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Cor­rec­tional Depart­ment.

“Of those three in­sti­tu­tions, only prison­ers at In­sein were able to take the ma­tric­u­la­tion exam last year. But this year Man­dalay prison­ers will also be able to take the exam,” said U Min Tun Soe, deputy di­rec­tor of the of­fice.

“Prison­ers at Thayawady can­not yet sit the ex­ams. But seven in­mates who passed the Grade 9 exam at Thayawady were trans­ferred to In­sein Cen­tral Prison so they can sit the ma­tric­u­la­tion exam there this year,” he said.

A to­tal of 28 prison­ers, in­clud­ing the seven from Thayawady, will sit their ma­tric­u­la­tion ex­ams at In­sein.

Most of the would-be stu­dents are serv­ing sen­tences for drug-re­lated of­fences, ac­cord­ing to U Min Tun Soe. The stu­dent with the short­est sen­tence re­lated to a drug crime is do­ing four years, with 12 years as the max­i­mum sen­tence be­ing served by an in­mate stu­dent. Six­teen of the stu­dents are in prison on rape charges, and 11 have been con­victed of mur­der. The other of­fences in­clude theft, im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions, rob­bery and im­per­son­at­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cor­rec­tional Depart­ment, none of the stu­dent in­mates are po­lit­i­cal prison­ers.

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