Kampala — Isaac Okori was booked at the Luzira Maximum Security Prisons following an indictment for murder, a capital offence.
He is serving a 20-year-jail punishment after he was convicted of murder in 2017.
Confined to a colonial-era prison facility without the luxury of changing clothes or having a meal of choice, Okori, 20, who had dropped out in Primary Six describes detention at the prison as an opportunity to pursue education.
The convicted prisoner emerged the best with aggregate 11 at the Uganda Government Upper Prison Primary School at Luzira out of 73 candidates who registered in last year's Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).
He wants to join secondary education to pursue his dream of becoming a medical doctor.
Allan Nkemba, 19, a defilement suspect on remand pending trial emerged second with aggregate 13. Nkemba said he had dropped out of school due to peer pressure but he is hopeful that learning while in prison would help him study to become a lawyer.
Okori and Nkemba are the only two inmate pupils who scored first grades in the 2018 PLE, a performance which teachers say declined compared to the 2017 results.
Among the inmates was 64 year old Tito Buhungiro who scored aggregate 26 and eight females.
Buhungiro, a convicted robber says he wants to use his time at the prison to pursue his dream in business.
"I joined school from prison in Primary One and with God's grace, I have managed to succeed. This is a big achievement and I thank the teachers, prison authorities and fellow prisoners for the encouragement," he said.
Mr Fred Ndorere, the inmate head teacher, says the 2018 performance has slightly gone down compared to 2017 due to changes in the set at the facility.
According to Mr Ndorere also a prisoner, seven scored first grades in 2017 compared to this year's two; while 36 passed in grade two in 2017 compared to 26 for last year's results.
Mr Gilbert Nuwamanya, the head of education at Luzira said the inmates performed well despite a decline. He said 65 candidates successfully sat for the examinations out of 73 who registered because the eight were absent either attending appeal session in Arua while others were released before the examinations.
"To better our performance, we plan better engagement of the prisoners to improve," said Mr Nuwamanya appealing to government to grant aid the primary section.
Mr Frank Baine, the Prison spokesperson, commended the teachers and the entire administration for teaching inmates.
He said education is one of the most successful programmes used by the prisons service to rehabilitate inmates.