By Willy Giles Okello
When education programmes were started in Luzira Upper prisons in the early nineties, it looked like a dream that will never come to pass. The Prisons administration received it with negative sentiments while the inmates saw it as waste of time. Little did we know that it would be a powerful weapon to fight illiteracy and transform the inmates.
We lacked scholastic materials, desks and qualified teachers. There were circumstances when the execution would take place and the education system would be put at a halt. It could take time for the inmates to gain their consciousness and sanity, more especially, when the execution had just been carried out. Being the Head of the inmates and also doubling as the headmaster of the Primary school, I could bare the insults when calling the learners back to school after the execution. You could hear words like: Did we come here to study? Why do you waste your time for what you are not even paid for? Despite all these odds, I was not discouraged from teaching.
Special appreciations go to the former Commissioner General of prisons, Mr. Joseph Etima, who initiated the registration of the primary school for Primary leaving Examination and thereafter for UCE and UACE.
We stood firm and made sure the education in prison was conducted in line with the prison rules and regulations. I could teach as well as study while in prison. My life had been a struggle, marked by constant challenges. The highest level of education was senior six and on attaining that academic ladder, you could go back to teach and help your fellow inmates.
By the time MUBS introduced the certificate and Diploma programmes in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management in 2009, it was meant to expose the inmates to the world of employment. Most of the inmates who went through this programme are either self employed or employed by the government or working in private companies. I urge all inmates who have not enrolled for these programmes,to do so . Don’t sit and relax while in prison. Visualize the dream before you. Don’t ever lose the vision. When you lose the vision, you are dead. Where there are no dreams, people perish. Set new goals. Believe you can reach them. Visualize defeat and you will be defeated. Visualize ultimate success and you will achieve it! What you see is what you will be. You can be anything or anyone you want to be if you can learn to believe in yourself. That is why the possibility thinkers who may not have the talent, the territory, or the training achieve the impossible. They go through tough times and they survive why? Because they believe in themselves.
You can never become what you want to be until you drop who you used to be. Since my release from prison in January 2015, I have become a role model in society. I wish to commend MUBS and the Principal Prof. Waswa Balunywa for their efforts in the transformation of the inmates. The inmates and country are lucky to have this man of purpose, vision, strength, and character to be in our midst. His one goal in life is to bring the fullness of education to every person, irrespective of your situation.
Finally, we thank the overall Correctional Commander of Prisons Service, Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, and his assistants for the open door policy he has put in place for the visitors to reach the inmates. He does not only deserve mention but also commendation.