This post has been contributed by Patricia McKellar, Associate Dean, University of London.
On 31st October Patricia McKellar, Associate Dean, attended the LLB Graduation in Kamiti High Security Prison in Nairobi, Kenya. Over the last 10 years the University has worked in cooperation with African Prison Projects to provide a legal education for prisoners, prison officers and APP staff. This year there were seventeen graduates which included three prisoners who had been released. Patricia was delighted to award the degree to the students who all have challenging stories of their incarceration and their path to studying for the law degree.
Many prisoners have had limited exposure to learning and have gone to the ‘school’ in the prison to gain the qualifications necessary to study for a tertiary degree. The prison authorities provided the space for the school and the prisoners who have some primary or secondary education act as the teachers. The students in prison were able to see the transformative effect of education and for many it has given new meaning in their lives.
Taking their schooling to the next level with a university degree was the natural step for some and has allowed them to direct their enthusiasm and energies into improving themselves and their community.
The University of London has supported the students to obtain their LLB degree by distance learning with APP providing the necessary academic and administrative assistance. The prisoners who are now graduates have been able to assist other inmates with their cases, often making submissions to the court on their behalf. Even as Patricia was talking to one of the graduates on the Graduation day, another prisoner came over to pass on his legal brief and ask the graduate to act for him in his forthcoming case. The students are hugely grateful for the opportunity which has been given to them.
The Graduation generated significant publicity and was covered widely in the local and national press.