Prison education in Nigeria prior to the establishment of NOUN special training centres at six different Nigerian prisons in the year 2016 was based on the provision of informal education in form of apprenticeship in trades necessary to keep prisoners operational. Reformation programmes of the Nigerian prison were designed to equip prison inmates with the vocational skills and knowledge that will help them to settle down in some vocations on their release back to society. The Nigerian Prison Service (NPS) had since taken several practical steps towards the reformation and rehabilitation of the prisons and the prison inmates. Among such steps was the educational collaboration of the Nigeria Prison Services (NPS) with the National open university of Nigeria (NOUN). The NOUN through its management and senate, established special study centres in some of the nation’s prisons and declared free education for prisoners as part of NOUN’s mission to be a pacesetter institution for educational access delivery, and her collaborative effort to support the government and the Nigerian prison service in their advocacy for widening educational access and helping prisoners to acquire formal education and improved quality of life the benefit of prison education; stated that “expanding access to college prison program could reduce state prison spending.
Generally, access to digital technologies in Nigerian prisons is restricted. For instance, the use of phones is censored. It is only permissible at the discretion of the officer in charge and on the hearing of the official assigned. Internet access is absolutely banned. The only prisoners presently having access to computers are the incarcerated students undergoing programmes from the National Open University of Nigeria; however, that does not include access to the internet. Admission into the National Open University is generally online. In the case of prisoners who don’t have access to the internet, when their sponsors paid the application fees, they will notify the university authorities of the names and number of applications with their credentials.
The university through the Directorate of Learner Support Services will then apply for admission on behalf of the students. Once they are found qualified, they are admitted into the programmes of their choice. As soon as the sponsors of the inmates pay their registration fee the university registers on behalf of the students, the students may start their programme. During exams, the National Open University of Nigeria deploys digital technology to prison inmates through a Local Area Network (LAN) within the examination halls (centres) for the students in the University Study Centre located within the prison yard for the purpose of writing Computer Based Examination (CBE) through a proxy server of the university. After the completion of the examinations, which runs for almost eight weeks, the computers and the proxy server are taken away from the halls back to the university.
It is also observed that despite its growing popularity, e-learning is still less valued than the conventional known traditional learning, particularly for prisoners. Interestingly, the reason for this dissatisfaction is not on the viability of e-learning itself as a process of studying but rather the non-availability of e-resources required for its operation in Nigeria, coupled with the problem of epilepsy power supply and lack of access to fast and cheap internet service provision. It becomes evident that e-learning encompasses more than just the offering of online courses; it includes all technological forms of knowledge engagements. Secondly, e-learning has moved from a fully-online course to using technology in the delivery of part or all of a course independently, without any recourse to the need for a fixed time or a fixed place. It has enhanced the participation of learners to become self-motivated and self-dependent.