NAYPYITAW — More than 100 prison inmates across the country will sit matriculation examinations in March, according to the Prisons Department.
“106 inmates have applied through the relevant prison departments to do the exam. There may be more who have applied on their own, but we don’t know yet,” Naypyitaw-based Prisons Department Deputy Director U Min Tun Soe told The Irrawaddy.
The matriculation examination is the major university entrance test administered in Myanmar. It is used to determine which field of study new students will pursue.
Yangon’s Insein Prison started allowing inmates to take matriculation exams in the 2012-13 academic year, and Obo Prison in Mandalay followed suit in 2016-17. The Prisons Department has announced that beginning in the current academic year (2017-18), all inmates across the country will be allowed to apply to sit the exam.
Taking the exam this year are inmates from Insein, Obo, Karen State’s Hpa-an and Taninthayi’s Myeik prisons.
According to U Min Tun Soe, Insein and Obo prisons launched wide-scale personal development programs for inmates in 2016, aimed at teaching illiterate inmates the “three Rs” — reading, writing and arithmetic — as well as religious and health lessons, and vocational training.
Inmates preparing for the exam are being taught by other inmates and on weekends by outside teachers, he said.
“It is a very good system to allow the young persons who are behind bars for various reasons [to sit exams],” said U Than Htike Lin, who teaches the Swan Ye Htet spoken-English class in Pyinmana.
The matriculation examinations will be held from March 7-16. This year will see the most inmates sitting for the exam since permission was first granted in 2012-13.
From 2012-13 to 2016-17, a total of 29 inmates from Insein Prison passed the matriculation examination. Last year at Obo Prison, nine inmates passed, with five earning one distinction each, and one prisoner earning three distinctions.
According to the Education Ministry’s Department of Examinations, more than 840,000 students registered to take the matriculation examination nationwide this year, up from 767,442 last year.