The Ghana Prisons Service says it is liaising with some organisations to complete a structure at the Nsawam Prisons to enable inmates to continue their education while they serve their term.
According to the PRO of the Service, DSP Vitalis Aryee, the structure will afford the prisoners the opportunity to have from basic to Senior High School education.
He said the Service is also working on allowing inmates access to distant tertiary education as the facility does not currently have the structures to support that.
This issue has become topical after five candidates presented by the Nsawam Medium Prison for this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) passed out with flying colours.
One candidate passed with distinction while the four other obtained between aggregates 10-15.
However, their dream of furthering their education ends at this point as the facility has no structures to provide the inmates with senior high school education.
As it stands now, the inmates will have to wait until they finish serving their term before they can continue their education. Some may not get the opportunity because they are on death row.
According to the DSP Aryee, 21 candidates with the Bostal Institute who also passed the BECE have been placed by the Ghana Education Service (GES) and some have started schooling.
“The Bostal Institute is not a prison but a correctional facility and the kids there are not up to 18 years. They don’t have a record after they have done their time,” he said.
“They are day students and they go to the schools that they were placed and they come back in the evening,” he explained.
Commenting on the issue, Jonathan Osei Owusu, Executive Director of POS Foundation, an NGO highlighted the challenges prison inmates are facing but congratulated them for making the most of the opportunity given them.
He said the timing of the debate is right because once the inmates have been given the opportunity to write the exam, then it is equally important to propose that they are given the opportunity to further their education.
“This is important so that when they come out they will not go back to the same crime to cut down on the recidivism. Regarding the way forward, I will put the call at the doorstep of the Ghana Education Service (GES) and government.
“For that matter getting one senior high school in the prisons to give access to those who have passed will benefit the state and improve its security,” he said.
Reformation through education
On whether the inmates can be reformed through education, he said the issue is not only about their education, health and congestion but the need to give the prisons justice.
Mr Osei Owusu said although the Justice For All programme is doing its best to give inmates justice, it is time to consider those who can be reformed through education.
He advised government to concentrate on providing the prisoners vocational, technical and technological education as it won’t cost the country much.
“One good thing that will help if we are able to do this is that the inmates have lots of time on their hands and when they are engaged they will be useful to society.
“They can use their time to produce quality things society will use and so if they come out because they are already skilled it will be easy to find jobs and reintegrate.
He also touched on the issue of discrimination by society in how it treats ex-convicts saying people should stop the stigmatization.
Mr Osei Owusu also called on other NGOs and donor agencies to help in the call to set up the facilities of learning in the prisons.