Second chance in Prison School yields two A1s for inmate who took O levels
Richard (not his real name) never thought he would be sitting for his O level examinations for the second time in 12 years.
But the 30-year-old was in disbelief when he received his results last week, scoring two A1s out of five subjects, a vast difference from failing all his subjects except English in his 2009 attempt.
Richard was among the 58 candidates from Prison School who sat for the exam last year (2021).
During his third sentence for drug offences, he enrolled in the school in January last year after reading articles about people older than him who were still continuing their studies.
He said: "If they can overcome challenges to do it, I thought maybe I can try too.
"But I was shocked to see my grades, I expected to just pass."
Out of the 58 students who sat for the national examination, 56 were eligible for post-secondary education with at least one O level pass, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim at Institution Tanah Merah 1 on Monday (Jan 17).
Associate Professor Faishal visited the Prison School and met some of the students who sat for theexam.
Speaking to the media at the prison, he said education is an important part of rehabilitation.
"The students shared with me that their education journey here has made them learn about the values of discipline and the need to focus and work hard… all this is consistent to what is needed in rehabilitation."
Classes in Prison School are held five days a week from 8.30am to 3pm, and the curriculum is condensed so that students can complete their course level during their incarceration period.
Richard shared that after his daily classes, he would spend about an hour daily revising after dinner. Whenever he had questions during revision that his cell mates could not answer, he would ask the question out loud across other cells and wait for someone to give him the answer.
"The atmosphere is positive, it really helped," he said.
Ms Nor Aishah Mohamed Salleh, 43, joined Prison School as a Biology teacher in January last year after teaching in mainstream schools for 18 years.
She said: "At first when I came here, I thought I would be dealing more with behavioural issues, however I didn't encounter any of that. The interactions with the students have been one of the best I've had in my years of teaching."
Richard plans to apply for a polytechnic diploma in an IT-related course like computer engineering or digital forensics once he is released from prison.
"My results are a motivation for me to change, it's not a barrier anymore for me to pursue the course I want."
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