From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.
Recently, eighteen people in central Kenya took the country’s secondary education test, called the KCSE. This examination can make a student nervous even under the best conditions. But these 18 students are prisoners. And if they do well on the test, they might get to leave prison.
Naivasha Prison is a top security jail. Inmate David Noah Okwemba recently took the KSCE in history and biology. He said he wants people to know that the prisoners have changed. They are no longer criminals but students. Prisoners who perform well on the test can have their sentences reduced. They may be released early to go to university or find employment.
Patrick Mwenda is head officer at the prison. He says Naivasha works with the high courts to consider the cases of prisoners who get high marks. Mr. Mwenda says nine prisoners have been released since 2008 as a result of their schooling and doing well on their tests. All had been sentenced to short terms. Mr. Mwenda admits pardons are difficult to get. But he says the prison urges students with longer sentences to build skills. He says doing this would help them have a good record to show Kenya’s pardon committee.
More than half of the 3,000 inmates at the Naivasha prison are involved in the school program. Others may learn job skills like working with clothing and wood. For supplies, the program depends on donors, other supporters and money from selling products made by the students. The inmates themselves choose the subjects and decide the content of the studies. Personal experience makes up an important part of class discussions. For VOA Learning English, I’m Alex Villarreal.