Inmates who pursue education can lead a purposeful life once they are released.

I REFER to a report on a prisoner who graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Open University Malaysia (OUM) at its recent convocation.

The story of Adam (not his real name), 30, an illiterate, and behinds bars for a murder committed when he was 14, stirred my heart and mind to believe that our future is in our hands, and with God’s help, we can correct the mistakes made.

This news caught my attention and inspired many who are behind bars and those in the free world that there is hope in a hopeless situation, that there exists another opportunity to create one’s future.

Together with another, Adam achieved his goal and is contemplating pursuing his PhD, an endeavour that’s achievable if
he maintains his passion.

His feat is unbelievable, commendable and exemplary, especially to those who feel they are denied opportunities in life.

A decision executed behind prison walls says much about Adam’s commitment and willpower.

Most prisoners would have resigned themselves to a life of wretchedness.

To make good, prisoners like Adam and even free citizens should not give up but take the chance offered and repay what society has blessed them with in the first place: education in or outside prison walls.

I am happy that the government and prison authorities have provided continuous education to juveniles and other prisoners to help them reintegrate into society upon their release or pardon.

Teachers play an important role, not only in teaching, but also motivating these young people to better themselves.

I am sure teachers in prison also act as counsellors to these prisoners.

I have a friend, Eliza Jeremiah, who teaches at Kajang Prison as she is passionate about wanting to create a future for these young lives.

She is one of the few who have chosen to do the noble job of teaching and moulding their character and grounding them in moral values.

How many teachers are willing to be in a fortified place to
teach young and adult prisoners?

These are dedicated teachers, unlikely to be noticed outside prison walls, but who are preparing juveniles, pre-adults and adults for life when they are released.

I commend the Education Ministry, which thought it right to provide education, from primary to secondary and tertiary, where teachers and prison staff are crucial to their success.

With OUM providing distance learning, no one behind bars should miss this opportunity.

With God’s help, we can escape hopelessness.

We cannot blame anyone if we chart a wrong direction. We have to make it right.

Adam chose to do right by pursuing an education, thus creating a destiny filled with hope and aspiration.

Commitment, passion and determination are prerequisites to getting a qualification behind bars.

There is no shortcut except to pay the price for success.

Sweat and tears are expected along the academic journey.

It is all about leaving one’s comfort zone in a prison cell to create one’s destiny.

Someone said: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”

To teachers, I wish all Happy Teachers Day. Strive for excellence and create excellence in your students.

DR TAN ENG BEE

Kajang, Selangor

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