He Who Opens a School Door, Closes a Prison

By Solomon Oyedokun, a Lecturer in Computer Science. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

As civilization grew along the line of history, it became necessary to pass formal instruction to human beings so that they could develop behaviours that would fit into civilized and normal societies. Then it was conjectured that starting from childhood was the best option so that young children who are taught would grow into educated adults. The idea was based on the ancient traditions in Greece, ancient Egypt and Europe up to the eighteen century. From then up to date, modern societies developed the idea of establishing schools first to breed literate children, then impart more knowledge to them. Today the idea has become well accepted, and schools are  now integral parts of every society.  Similarly, the prison system was established as a correction facility instead of killing offenders right away. Historical records credited  a philosopher named  Jeremy Bentham as the one who proposed  a prison system instead of taking life of an offender. Thus, two parallel institutions, the schools and the prisons have grown in the past centuries. Both have become necessary, even though they are contrasts. The schools are creative and preventive, while the prisons seek to correct if possible. These two modern institutions are here being compared, a school and a prison. The term “school” here is used in a generic term, referring to every institution of learning up to the tertiary institutions. Along the history of social development both have become very relevant and are similar because each specializes in molding human character . However , a distinguishing factor is that a school builds the mind of individuals by imparting knowledge and skills necessary to acquire good morals, behaviours  and skills necessary to fit in the modern society and make useful contributions for advancing human society. The prison on the other hand is a correction home where persons who have built their character but are unable to abide by the rules and norms of the society are compelled to be confined in special places while being corrected and made to compensate in some ways for their inadequacies.

In most modern societies both schools and prisons exist. Schools are built and run by governments or in conjunction with voluntary agencies. They both aim and seek to ensure that citizens are cultured and disciplined so that they remain building blocs of moral chivalry in a  society. The school is maybe a voluntary institution while the prison is a mandatory institution for persons who exhibit untoward behavious. The questions can now be asked: “Should we build schools or Prisons?”  The answer depends on where and when, among other factors. Fundamentally schools are training grounds for children, and willing adults. Schools are essential institutions  for breeding future citizens, artisans, technocrats, intellectuals, religious leaders and all categories of useful citizens. Thus, the more schools that are built and are attended by citizens, the more the number of upright and useful citizens that such a society will have. It follows logically then that persons who are trained in schools generally inculcate the norms, ethics, and moral rectitude that will contribute to the building and maintenance of a modern, peaceful society, In contrast, persons sent to prison are generally outlaws, who willingly or carelessly succumb to pressure to commit crimes, and offences that negate the established laws of certain societies. To maintain the societal equilibrium, the law enforcement agencies must incarcerate such persons in prisons mainly to prevent them from infecting others with their criminal tendencies, and possibly to reform then into useful citizens.

Thus it is clear that if every citizen is made to attend school, those who will need to be imprisoned will be minimal in number. Thus we give credit to the great French thinker, author, philosopher and playwright, Victor Hugo, who lived from 1802 to 1885, and made this laudable observation.  We then see that for every school we build, we are indirectly shutting a prison door.  It behooves every modern society then to intensify great effort in building functional and effective schools in spite of the seemingly daunting challenges of the day. And great care must be taken to scrutinize the contents of the school curriculum in this era of globalization and information flow. These days the school curriculum is generally being polluted with negativities from social media. Running a good school in the present millennium is quite challenging. Children and adult of school age are constantly  getting exposed to false lessons. The consolation is that there is increasing awareness on the part of school owners. Having good schools also require having quality teachers who should be trained and re-trained and adequately rewarded.

In conclusion, the school and the prison are social institutions that are needed. But by far schools are more needed than prisons. This is because every society is evolving. The trauma and stigmatization of prison life are becoming unbearable to those who pass through them. Certainly there is hope that modern societies will eventually become better as the number of schools outnumber that of prisons.

60 comments on “He Who Opens a School Door, Closes a Prison

  1. Dr. Bimbo Oyedokun on

    Very interesting article, with some great nuggets of information. Like the late Reggae artist, Lucky Dube ominously warned, in a place where “they won’t build no schools anymore, all they build will be prison, prison”, then every citizen will end up a “prisoner”. I can only re-echo the author’s hope that the number of schools will outnumber prisons, especially in my native Nigeria.

  2. Ramsey Nanna on

    An excellent article. Its strong message is that it is good to build schools but the curriculum content is important for the attainment of the positive objectives of the system so that it maintains its advantage over the prison system.
    I wholeheartedly buy into the message. Mr. Oyedokun is highly commended for writing this article.

  3. Olujide Dixon on

    Very thoughtful and interesting to read. Need more of these in Nigeria. Our country has one the highest number of out of school children not to talk of an increase in the number of our youth involved in a lot of social menaces.

  4. Prof Benjamin Aribisala on

    The author is right. More schools are by far more needed than prisons. Efforts expended to build schools are the best.

  5. Dr J.A. Akinjobi on

    The more the number of schools, the more will children and learners be motivated. Governments and all should join hands to build more schools.
    This is what the society needs.

  6. Prof. J.O. Ayeni on

    No society thrives by erecting too many prisons. Available facilities will attract everybody. Therefore, when you build more schools, you create attractions for attending schools. Then schools will train many people.

  7. Prof J.S.Oludotun on

    As you open a school or any training institution you are preventing ignorance, superstition, and the tendency to commit crime and get into prison. So, kudos to all school proprietors, they forestall breeding criminals who are candidates for prison. The author of this essay is right, absolutely right!

  8. Prof. C.O. Uwadia on

    The main ingredient of a progressive society is access to knowledge. This acquired by going to school. Therefore opening a school is one of the noblest contribution to societal progress.
    Opening a school is much better than opening a prison.

  9. Prof G.D. Gbogolagunte on

    Opening a school door and admitting people implies that those admitted are less likely to become prison candidates in future. In essence, opening a school prevents a prison to be necessary.

  10. Dr. Poluyi Chris Olusegun on

    All those who go to school are likely to be good citizens. But products of prisons cannot be trusted. It is better to open a school than to open any prison.

  11. Dr Martin O. Ikpehai on

    As you open a school, you are creating opportunity for educating people, that action is turning them away from crime and prison. And if that your action is replicated nobody will go to prison, prison door will remain closed

  12. Godwin Idoko on

    There is no controversy here! School opening creates opportunity for knowledge, which in turn enlightens one to know the right from wrong. No committing offense, no getting prison term. simple.

  13. Dr Ayo Ojo on

    Please give education to all. Start by opening schools. One good school makes any prison unnecessary. See what is happening today worldwide. Prisons don’t solve problems. Schools do.

  14. Prof. Manny C. Aniebonam on

    Education remains the best heritage to bequeath to the coming generation. It begins formally at the school. Therefore open a school, send the children there and by so doing you are veering them off from the prison path. An opened school then shuts a prison. Fact of all time!

  15. OLubode Oruku on

    As consultants, we find it easier to train school products than prison graduates. Please open more schools, send people there, then give them to us, we will train them to become best persons who will change the society for better

  16. Ajokotola Sunday Oluwole on

    Educated people are good on our roads. Here in our business, we love educated people. Where do we find them? Of course in the schools. Then please open more and more schools. Forget about prisons! Each school you open, makes many prison unnecessary. Schools, and more schools, please!persons

  17. M.C. Nwankwo on

    Prison at best stands to correct if possible, which is quite tasking. But it is better to go easy – open schools, admit the right people an train them, then you have a good society. This is cheaper than investing in prisons. Every school that you open, makes sure a prison door does not open

  18. Abimbola Adetokunbo on

    It is cheaper and easier to mold young minds at the school rather than trying to correct adults in the prison. The right way way I think is to begin to train young people from school. They will grow mature and be good citizens As you open a school, the necessity for a prison diminishes.

  19. Kennedy Ejakpomewhe on

    Please invest massively in the opening of schools. every school will wipe out ignorance and nurture children to be upright citizens. The the prison door should remain shut!

  20. M.A. Falade on

    The basic opportunity in life begins at school. Prison is an aberration, and an unusual thing. Therefore let us open more schools so that there will be no necessity of opening any prison at all.

  21. Victoria Obuego Obi on

    All over the world, schools are known to be foundation of society. Hence, governments and groups of people invest in schools. As a school opens, progress begins, the need for a prison no longer arises. The prison and the school are two parallel institutions. The school is the better option for society.

  22. Dr Abimbola Salako on

    Schools are far more beneficial to society than prisons. A school carries all the hopes and aspirations of the society. A school ensures the training of persons and hence prevents the necessity to open any prison.

  23. Agnes Bassey (Ms) on

    Let my children go to school please! Every school offers unlimited lifetime opportunity. AS a school opens its doors to people, unlimited chances of success open. No need for prison again.

  24. John Bosco Sumanu on

    Normal societies have minimum investment in prison management. THe way forward is to have many good schools, Each school will build the mind and potentials of citizens, hence no need for several prisons. The author of this article got it right. One school opened makes many prisons unnecessary.

  25. Prince Christopher A. Latunde on

    One certain solution to societal problem is the establishment and maintenance of schools. When we have sufficient number of good and well managed schools, then prison doors can remain shut for lack of inmates. The author’s idea is right that opening a school will shut a prison door.

  26. Gabriel Unwanze on

    In this information age, the major emphasis should be on education, this obtainable in schools. When we build and open a school, we empower the beneficiaries to develop the abilities to discern the truth from falsehood, the right from the wrong. Such persons will never be on the wrong side of the law. Therefore,to such people prison is irrelevant. Therefore, the more schools we build and manage, the less number of prisons that will be necessary.

  27. Adeleke Adeyemi on

    To stem the tide of violence in modern societies, education should be available to children as early as practicable. This will start from schools. For every school opened, opportunities are created for learning and uprightness.
    Educated folks therefore are generally crime averse, they won’t need to indulge in criminality, hence are not candidates for the prison. As opening of schools is replicated, prisons will logically fold up.

  28. Olufemi S. Ajibi on

    Open a school, and by default, you close a prison door. There is an absolute truth in this statement. The school imparts knowledge, manners and morals to its pupils or students. When these pupils and students mature, the naturally become assets to society. No prison life for them. Therefore a society rich in such schools should close its prisons.

  29. Iyke s. Nwaneche on

    Sound education is a cherished ideal for all. It begins in schools Let each person strive to enroll his/her wards or children into schools in order to flow with the times. Growing with the schools wards each child away from the inherent dangers of modern society. Proper tutelage in schools guarantees avoidance of bad behavious that lead to prison life. Send a child to school for education, help keep the prison door closed.

  30. Ejide F. Oladunmoye on

    School of modern times begin early to impart the necessary morals, knowledge and ethics of modern society, thus a child afre a few years in school knows as much as the adult. Therefore, it pays to send children to school as from early age. On becoming adult, the child is conversant with the laws, law breaking thus become unpalatable to the child. Anyone who opens a school therefore assists in character building, and helps to keep the prison door shut.

  31. Afolabi A. A. Coker on

    The level of a nation’s development depends to a large extent to the availability of properly managed schools. if the schools are well managed, the opening any one school adds to effectiveness and makes existence of any prison very unnecessary. The theme of this essay is right. As more schools ae opened and made functional, the need for prison existence will not be there.

  32. Dr. Chris Nwanenna on

    There is nothing that will take the place of education in the modern systems of governance anywhere in the world. As a school opens, opportunities exist for proper upbringing of children, such children who already adults are already taught the right ethics and ways of behavior in society. Hence they are not prison materials. Prison can as well close for them.

  33. Yinka Titilola on

    The French philosopher Victor Hugo was right. Opening a school implies closing a prison door because a prison exists for correcting people by force, whereas a school is a carefully planned system of im parting instructions. Anyone who who successfully passes through a school no longer needs prison experience. Thus it is much better and easier to enable people to go through a school, instead of go through the prison trauma.

  34. Adewusi N. Olajoku on

    Both the school and the prison are institutions. The school applies the polite and natural methods, while the prison employs coercion to impart instruction. The school all over the years have been successful while the prison had remain a money gulping enterprise. The school system had been far more successful, therefore opening a school is a better enterprise, it naturally makes the opening of any prison unnecessary.

  35. Shuaib Afolabi Salisu on

    I prefer the opening of a school. any school to that of running a prison. The moment you start a school, you begin to direct people in the right direction, turning them away from whatever will land them in prison. Therefore the prison door is as good as closed once aschool is opened.

  36. Fashina Abayomi Taiwo on

    The only way to improve education is to open more schools. Competition among schools will be keen. Prisons will close.

  37. Engr Umar B. Bimdir, Ph.D. on

    As a developing country, Nigeria needs more schools than prisons. So let us build more schools, less prisons, then we will breed better citizens. This author and Victor Hugo are quite right — more schools, less prisons.

  38. Ayodele Adeoye on

    Ten five-star prisons contribute less than what one good school contributes to the society. I support the idea of opening more schools and nurture them to maturity. Then please close the prisons.

  39. 'Lanre on

    Most prisons should even be converted to educational facilities, because if many of the inmates knew better or had better opportunities, they might have done better.
    This is an insightful article.


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