Astronomy and Upskilling at a Nigerian Prison

The Astro-prison project aimed to boost morale and create behavioural change among inmates at Nigerian prisons. It also wanted to provide practical job skills and improve literacy. was carried out in collaboration with CAPIO (Carmelite prisoners interest organization), Enugu State. The project was executed on 16, 17 and 20th of August, 2021. The planning of the project started with the first official visit to CAPIO with the project team delegates in June 2021. Then a second visit on July 2021 by the project team, the director NASRDA-CBSS and CAPIO officials to the Controller Nigerian correctional service, Enugu State. 

The project was carried out in two correctional centres, the Enugu State federal maximum correctional facility and the Nsukka minimum correctional facility. The visit to Enugu State federal maximum correctional facility was on the 16 and 17th August 2021, while the visit to Nsukka minimum correctional facility was on the 20th of August 2021. The activities carried out in the maximum facility were:
a. introduction to astronomy and OAD using the concept of pale blue dot by Carl Sagan. The introductory session was moderated by Dr Onyeuwaoma Nnaemeka with the assistance of the project team.
b. medical outreach for the inmates. The medical outreach was carried out by a team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and health professionals made available through CAPIO. The project team provided the drugs, Covid-19 protective accessories and finance required for its execution. The medical team attended to over 100 inmates with various ailments.
c. entrepreneurship training for inmates. The project team through the services of Mekachi agro ventures, Enugu State taught the target inmates and interested inmates on snail farming and beekeeping. On the 16th of August, after the lectures, two snail farms were established in the prison with one farm each for the female and male participants respectively. On the 17th, the farms were inspected with extensive training on beekeeping. All lecture handouts were provided for easy reference. The participants were over 110 including the correctional warders.
d. delivery of toiletries to the inmates. The project team also delivered some toiletries to the correctional authorities which will be distributed evenly among the inmates, with special attention to the female inmates. The delivery includes over 20 cartons of toilet soap and cartons of sanitary pads for the female inmates.
e. sponsorship of the correctional center football match for the year. The annual football match for 2021 was sponsored by the project team, as this improved the turnout and warm welcome by the inmates.

The activities carried out in the Nsukka minimum correctional facility were:
a. introduction to astronomy and OAD using the concept of the pale blue dot. The astronomy lectures were carried out by the outreach team anchored by Dr Onyeuwaoma Nnaemeka D.
b. entrepreneurship training of inmates. The training of the target and other selected inmates by the warders was achieved through the help of Mekachi agro ventures. The entrepreneurship lectures were on snail farming and beekeeping. All the necessary materials were made available and the establishment of the snail farm was done after the lectures. Only one snail farm was established in this minimum prison because the inmates are fewer and they don’t harbour female inmates. The participants were over 60 including the correctional warders.

During the project, the refreshments were provided by CAPIO as they are trusted by the correctional centres. The project assessment/ chat was held at CBSS-NASRDA where the Director (Dr Okere Bonaventure I.), thanked CAPIO, the head of science NASRDA-CBSS (Dr Ofordum C.N), Egbuim Timothy C, Mekachi agro ventures and all the stakeholders involved for the successful execution of the project.