More than 50 prison officers yesterday began a two-week intensive non-formal education course aimed at building their capacity to improve social reintegration of inmates.
The Non-Formal Education Division of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports is supporting the course, which formed part of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) four-year sponsorship package to strengthen human right institutions and promote access to justice in the country.
Mr Anthony Kobina Yebuah, Director for Human Resource of the Prisons Service said the Service has over the years undergone changes in its approach in maintaining internal security.
He said the Service for instance began with the era of instant justice, followed by being a penal institution and was currently working at becoming a rehabilitation centre to reform inmates.
He said it was in this vein that the Service was collaborating with the UNDP and the Non-Formal Education Division to assist with the mandate which the Service had not been able to fulfill due to inadequate resources.
Mr Yebuah said human resource development was therefore key to provide training to inmates to develop skills that would give them a source of livelihood to prevent them from committing similar crimes after they had served their jail terms.
He commended UNDP for providing not only training but equipment that would help the officers to perform their roles well. 'We hope that by the year 2010, we would not only have equipped inmates with the necessary skills but would have made the Ghanaian society safer for all,' he added.
Mr Samuel Salifu Mogre, Director for the Non-Formal Education Division, in a speech read on his behalf said functional literacy had become an important tool for the reformation of inmates.
He said most people break the law out of ignorance and as such promoting functional literacy could go a long way to educate the masses on their rights and responsibilities to build a crime-free society.
'The fact that Ghana's illiteracy rate for the active group stands at about 40 per cent increases our burden to intensify efforts to reduce illiteracy which still remains an impediment in the development aspirations of our dear country,' he added.
Mr Mogre said there was the need to sustain the skills acquired by the beneficiaries in order not to erode the gains made. Mr Shigeki Komatsubara, Deputy Resident Representative of the UNDP said the training programme was part of a project initiated by the UNDP to strengthen human rights, promote access to justice in prisons and provide training to inmates to help them gain livelihood skills. He said this year's project would be the first of a programme developed to strengthen the capacity of the Service to meet its mandate and consolidate good governance and respect for human rights in the penal system.
Mr Komatsubara said the workshop was also aimed at capacity building of the officers to respect the human rights of prisoners in order for them to in turn educate inmates on their constitutional rights as well.