Burma

Obo Prison Inmates Matriculate with Honors

By Zarni Mann 19 June 2017

MANDALAY — Seven inmates from Mandalay’s Obo Prison passed matriculation exams in the 2016-17 academic year, five of them with honors.

A 19-year-old woman who was sentenced to 10 years on drug charges matriculated with distinctions in geography, history and economics. Four boys who passed the exam received one distinction each.

The results of the matriculation exam were announced on Saturday.

“She was from Shwe Gu Township [in Kachin State]. She has so far served about two years of her prison term,” said U Cho Win Tun, prison superintendent of Obo Prison.

The girl was reportedly arrested in 2015 and jailed under the Narcotics Law after 15 methamphetamine tablets were found in the shop she was working in.

“If she is qualified for professional study and willing, the ministry will decide whether she can continue in university. We will pursue every possible measure to allow her to continue her studies,” the prison superintendent said.

A total of 11 inmates from Obo Prison sat for the matriculation exam.

“If they want to continue to university, we will cooperate with the National Higher Education Department. They could possibly participate in distance education, as they still have to serve their prison terms,” said the superintendent.

“We are very proud of these students for studying hard and not giving up on their education.”

This was the first academic year in which Obo Prison inmates could sit the exam from inside. In past years, they had to travel to Insein Prison for the exam.

According to figures from the Ministry of Education, 41 inmates from Obo, Insein, Tharyarwaddy and Hpa-an prisons took the matriculation exam, and 16 of them passed.

According to prison officials, in Obo Prison alone, there were 38 inmates studying from grade 6 through matriculation this year. The classes were mainly taught by teachers who were also imprisoned. Teachers from local high schools helped prepare them for the matriculation exams under a program run by the education ministry.

The successful inmates will have to wait until all marks are totaled to see which universities they may be eligible to attend.

Professional universities—such as medicine, engineering, economics and information technology—accept students with the highest marks and do not allow distance learning.

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