ZODML opened its first in-prison library at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre in March 2013. The library provides a wide variety of books and magazines and has been pivotal to the learning of those studying for external exams and on National Open University of Nigeria courses. ZODML’ s Development Officer Lordson Daki narrates his experience after his first visit to the prison :
“Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from a critical interpretation of written or printed text. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society. The prison on the other hand is a community on its own. This community in most cases serves as a correctional center where inmates are expected to be integrated into the larger society after spending time. UNESCO (2004) stated that Literacy is the right of all. Irrespective of your status within and outside the four walls of prison everyone should have equal opportunity for literacy. ZODML understands and believe in this concept hence, the initiative of setting up libraries in prisons.
“ I am not seeing any wall, all I see is a future with endless opportunities” these are the words of an inmate I met at the Ikoyi prison on the 16th of July, 2015. This inmate is in his final year studying criminology and security studies and doing his project at the National Open University, Nigeria (NOUN). Those that were able to gain admission and sponsors are usually taken to NOUN study centre in Kirikiri Maximum prison, Apapa.
My first time in the prison and library was similar to my first time in any community. I had a lot to look at and most of the inmates were living a normal life all in bathroom slippers. The excitement in most of their faces was one I will not forget soon. Seeing the inmates embracing literacy by making use of the ZODML Library and prison school gave me this joy of doing something good for humanity. The library has a great collection of books and other resource materials, including religious books (Bible and Quran). One of the most interesting parts in the operation of the library is the buy-in of the inmates. One of the inmates is a volunteer in charge of charging-out books to fellow inmates.
The prison has a school where inmates who have either graduated from NOUN/other universities or are currently running a programme in NOUN teach other inmates and prepare them for external exams.
“School has saved my life, I am now a computer man. Thank God” these are the words of another inmate I met in the computer room, who is in his mid-twenties still ‘awaiting trial’.
Although it has been said that inmates behaviour is irrational but I believe the prison officials with the help of the library are doing a great job putting their attitude in check.”
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