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Shanghai prisoner passes at university
Updated: 2004-11-01 09:33

Shanghai's first prisoner admitted to study at a foreign university has passed his first three exams and been granted awards that may earn him sentence reduction, Qingpu Prison officials said at the weekend.

The convict, identified by his pseudonym Mahathir, received his results for the first three exams he sat for an economics degree at London University on Saturday.

He passed elements of accounting and finance, statistics and mathematics.

Mahathir, a 50-year-old prisoner from South Asia, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for smuggling in 2001.

He got the idea to attend the university last year and sat the exam under the supervision of the British Consulate General in Shanghai and the prison authority in May.

"My motive in applying for this undergraduate degree is the wish to keep learning something all the time," Mahathir said, adding that he was quite interested in the major and had longed for education at that college.

He said he planned to finish the remaining 10 exams through self-study in five years. He will be awarded an undergraduate degree of accounting and finance after passing all the exams.

Mahathir's pass this time will also earn him possible sentence reduction, prison officials said.

According to prison regulations, convicts who pass a single subject in a self-study college examination will be granted at least three award points.

People who have earned up to 120 points will automatically be exempt from part of their sentence.

"We want to send the message to other prisoners here that we encourage this kind of self-education, and we will try our best to support them," said Qing Rongliang, the prison supervisor.

Mahathir now spends five hours of his spare time reading books and doing exercises to prepare for another three exams next year.

Though he has enough time and space, the self-teaching process does have problems since the student must rely entirely on reading textbooks and self-discipline.

"But I felt lucky that my undergraduate background of electronic engineering in my motherland helped me a lot," Mahathir said.

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