Irish prisoners knuckling down to the books behind bars

Inmates study Open University courses in scheme costing the State €137,860


The taxpayer last year funded Open University courses to the tune of over €135,000 for prison inmates to study the likes of creative writing, art – and crime.

New figures provided by the Department of Justice confirm the Irish Prison Service last year spent €137,860 on 54 prisoners to sit Open University courses.

The spend was revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request. The money was part of a €1.1 million spent by the IPS on its prison education programme in 2014, and is seen as an important part of rehabilitation.

The programme includes inmates following this year’s Leaving Cert English syllabus where they are studying Shakespeare’s Othello and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. On those taking Open University courses, the information shows one of the courses taken by inmates last year was “Crime and justice” with others taking “Welfare, crime and society”.

Other inmates maybe with a cash-pile ready to greet them on the outside are studying the “You and your money” course. The Open University states those taking the course will make more informed decisions about their personal finances – the course is practical and will develop students’ financial skills to help them to plan best for their retirement.