Despite many not having studied for years, 61 inmates at the Tanah Merah Prison School sat for their O-level results last year and received their results along with the rest of the nation’s 17- and 18-year olds.
According to Amrin Amin (Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Health)’s Facebook post, over 80 per cent of them achieved at least 3 ‘O’ passes, and 2 scored an outstanding 5 distinctions each.
They overcame many odds, fought against doubts they had in themselves….This is a good achievement. Good results are a welcome bonus. It will certainly come helpful in securing jobs later upon release. But most of all, the fact they tried and believed in themselves is a major achievement in itself.”Amrin Amin, on his Facebook post
On 3rd January 2000, Kaki Bukit Centre was established as a Prison School, the brainchild of former director of prisons Chua Chin Kiat. It relocated to Tanah Merah Prison in 2011. It houses a well-stocked library, classrooms, and even science labs.
Doing well in the O Levels is a commendable feat, but even more so for inmates as many have not been in school for years, and have less time to prepare- 10 months to be exact- for the examination. In a 2016 Straits Times article, Ms Phang Ka Leng, the prison school’s vice-principal, says that the curriculum in prison is “very much compressed” and that “they don’t have the luxury of time”. (Read more on the original article here https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/more-get-to-study-behind-bars).
Inmates can also take other national examinations, such as the N-levels and A-levels. The school has seen more students like John taking major examinations such as the GCE ‘N’, ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels. In 2012, 210 inmates sat for those exams. This number jumped to 239 in 2015 (Source: Channel NewsAsia).
Despite having made mistakes in the past, and their adverse circumstances, they have overcome the odds to do well. Well done to the prison candidates, and all the best in your future endeavours!