“I am confident that I will be a great person when I will be released from this prison. The skills I have acquired have changed my mindset. I will no longer be a problem to society, I will no longer be a liability but an asset once I am set free,” Mr Andrew Nsambu, said on Thursday at the 6th graduation of Luzira Prison inmates.
Mr Nsambu, who was reluctant about discussing the offence that led him to prison, was speaking on behalf of 113 inmates who completed certificate and diploma entrepreneurial courses courtesy of Makerere University Business School (MUBS).
He said him and other graduates would become change agents in society because the entrepreneurship knowledge they have acquired would be a precursor to revolving their life fortunes.
Out of 113 graduates, 55 earned diplomas whereas 58 scooped certificates. The graduates were for the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 academic years. Mr Gilbert Niwamanya, Luzira Upper Prison head teacher, said a total of 407 inmate students have been registered for both certificate and diploma entrepreneurial courses since the program was introduced of which 82 percent have graduated.
“Great thanks go to the lecturers from MUBS who have accepted to be part time prisoners by choice, for accepting to be inconvenienced daily by routine checks at the numerous checkpoints before entering Upper Prison, to come and partake of this noble venture. Thank you teaching and preparing these students,” Mr Niwamanya said.
Mr Nsambu and Mr Niwamanya cited challenges among others lack of internet services to enable learners make research, insufficient reference materials for the leaners and inadequate funding since the inmates have no income sources.
State minister for Internal Affairs, Obiga Kania, who was the chief guest, encouraged all inmates to enrol for the formal programs since being in cells doesn’t mean it is the end of world for them.
“The certificates you have earned today are tools for your lives here [prison] and after. You may lose everything on this earth but the knowledge you have acquired will never be lost. You are here for cleansing and afterwards you will be free. Do not make the mistakes that brought here once you are out,” Mr Kania said.
Mr Kania applauded MUBS and Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr Johnson Byabashaijja, who was represented by his deputy, Mr James Mwanjje, for training inmates something he said was a step towards making society a better place. He said he was going to lobby cabinet to ensure degree programs are also introduced for inmates.
“I request you, the relatives of these people, not to isolate them once they are out. They are reformed and can now be good people. You [inmates] should also know that nobody has forgotten you. People still love you and they treasure you,” Mr Kania said.
Mr Mwanjje said inmates’ population was currently standing at 54,640 of which 5894 are pursuing formal education at primary, secondary and tertiary level. He said recidivism rate had reduced to 21 percent due to the psycho-social and education support and rehabilitation inmates go through during prison.