Distance Education not a “Prison Sentence”: A Case Study of Student Support for Prisoners at the Windhoek Central Prison
The Polytechnic of Namibia is one of Namibia’s tertiary institutions. It is situated in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. It is a dual mode institution with distance education offered by the Centre for Open and Life Long Learning (COLL). It comprises of five schools namely the School of Business and Management, School of Engineering, School of Information Technology, School of Health Sciences and School of Communication. It has ten centres including Windhoek and provides support for 2359 students which is this year’s enrolment number. The majority of COLL’s students fall under the School of Business and Management. COLL is made up of three interrelated subsystems namely materials development subsystem, student support subsystem and an administrative subsystem. The services provided by the student support subsystem are: // • Training of tutors • Tutor-marking • Telephone tutoring • Vacation schools • Orientation Seminar • Face-to-face tutorials • Radio tutorials // The aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness of the student support services to distance students studying from prison. While distance students usually cannot come to campus to study due to their various responsibilities they have freedom to come and go as they please. Students who are in prison do not have such freedom. They experience more isolation and remoteness than other distance students and would find it difficult to find a quiet place to study (Worth, n.d). They require more support in order for them to be able to complete their studies successfully. It is against this backdrop that this study was undertaken. The central question the paper tries to answer is “how well has COLL adapted the student support services to accommodate the learning needs of the students in prison?”
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