A group of female prisoners made the grade yesterday by passing exams while behind bars. The 46 young offenders at the Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution gained 96 certificates from local and overseas institutions, including the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Pitman Qualification Examinations and the Open University of Hong Kong. Twenty-six young prisoners gained distinctions in Chinese and English word processing. Certificates were presented by legislator Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun at a ceremony yesterday. Mrs Leung, who chairs the Women's Commission, said she understood that females took on increasingly important roles in society and she hoped the students would grow into independent women who fought for their rights and futures. Coco - not her real name - a 20-year-old convicted drug trafficker, gained one distinction and one credit in LCCI exams. She said she was a different person. 'My father told me he and my mother were getting old and would retire very soon. At that moment, I realised my responsibility. I knew I could not waste my time,' she said. 'I was pleased after winning the best designer award in the fashion design competition organised by our institution. That was a great assurance of my talent and I'm aiming to further my studies in design.' Twenty-year-old Amy - not her real name - obtained one distinction and two credits in the LCCI exams. 'I feel as if I have been studying in a boarding school. Teachers are so supportive here. Even our principal checked out reference books and newspaper clippings for us,' she said. 'I am prepared to face discrimination after leaving the institution. But good results can be a proof of my capabilities.'