A Malawian prisoner George Luhanga has been denied a chance to pursue tertiary education at Chancellor College despite being selected for studies at the institution in Zomba City.
Our findings indicate that the convict did well in Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations in 2012 and was then selected to pursue a Bachelors’ degree in Education at Chanco but because he is still an inmate, he could not enroll.
In an interview with our reporter, Luhanga maintained that despite being a prisoner, it could be of paramount benefit if authorities could allow him to first do his studies and thereafter finish his jail sentence.
“The problem is that they [Chancellor College] cannot keep my place. Had it been that authorities understood, they could have let me go and study, thereafter continue my sentence but they maintain to say it is against the laws of the land,” he said.
Malawi24 understands that in Malawi, there are no laws that allow cutting a prison sentence and letting a convict to pursue studies at college level outside prison walls.
A top Malawi prison official, who leaked the information on condition of anonymity, blamed Malawi laws for being harsh to inmates saying most of them are more intelligent than some free citizens but then they are denied chances to go further with their education.
Former principal secretary in the ministry of education, Samuel Sakuli, who once served a sentence in Malawi prison over abuse of public office echoed this saying that the time he was behind bars, fellow inmates were showing their potential in education, and most of them were doing well.
“I was teaching them some subjects and I could see that most of them had potential and were really good. However the problem is that in our country, laws seem to be sidelining such people,” said Sakuli.
Publicist for Malawi prison, Evanz Phiri, urged the ministry of education to introduce tertiary education in prison and deploy qualified secondary school teachers to take care of some inmates who have potential in education.
Phiri said last year about 68 prisoners performed well in their senior secondary national exams but their journey in education seem to have ended there thus the need to consider introducing some tertiary studies in prisons across the country.
“Ministry of education must also consider giving us qualified teachers. Currently they teach each other but we believe with qualified teachers they will do more than that,” said Phiri.
In reaction to the development, director of Men against violence and prisoners torture (MAVPT) Luke Kaunda blamed Malawian laws for restricting chances of prisoners to go further with their studies.
He said much as prisons are not places for punishing people; it should also imply that prisoners who deserve the best in life must be given such chances.
“Laws must be revised or may be if that fails then the ministry of education must intervene with helpful solutions,” said Kaunda.