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23.02.2012 General News

Tamale Borstal School In Tatters

By Daily Guide
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The Pong-Tamale Vocational and Junior Correctional Centre, also known as 'Akwada Bone' in the Northern region, is on the verge of collapsing and needs immediate renovation .

The institution, which was established decades ago, is expected to serve inmates from the northern sector comprising Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and West regions.

Investigations conducted by DAILY GUIDE revealed that the centre had never received any facelift over the years despite the services it rendered to humanity by reforming delinquent male children.

Following the enactment of the Juvenile Justice Act in October 2003 (ACT 653), the institute, initially called a Borstal Institute, was transformed to the present correctional centre with the same mission.  The centre is a constitutional correction centre for people who are under 18 years and have been convicted of criminal or civil offenses.

The period that a convict spends in the centre is aimed at reforming him or her so as to be able to fit into society after their stay at the centre.

The major problem that faces the centre is the neglect of the inmates by their relatives.

Juveniles who fall foul of the law are expected to be reformed at the centre while serving their sentences.

Inmates are provided skills training and formal education. Some are also prepared for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

Those who qualify continue with their education at senior correctional centres.

But this laudable policy seems to have already collapsed as a visit to the Centre revealed dilapidated structures, with some skeletal staff at post.

Successive governments, it was gathered, had paid little or no attention to the correctional centre whose main objective was to address and curb the increasing cases of juvenile crimes in society.

There seems to be no one in government who feels responsible for the inefficiencies or the success of the juvenile justice system.

In general, the government of Ghana does not give priority to juvenile justice.

However, ensuring juvenile justice is an essential component of the development of the nation's children and must be given priority.

Francis Haruna, Manager of the Tamale Vocational and Junior Correctional Centre, told DAILY GUIDE that lack of funding was the major constraint facing the centre.

According to him, he was yet to receive a monthly subvention of GH¢100 for the past 6 months. The money is also used as operational/administration cost.

Mr. Haruna bemoaned the poor infrastructure of the centre but observed that his outfit, as a result of financial constraints, could not carry out any major rehabilitation works.

He stated that in the event that inmates absconded, it was always difficult for them to be traced since the Social Welfare Department had not allocated funding for this purpose.

The centre has 3 skills training staff, with 2 support staff whose residential facilities at the time of DAILY GUIDE's visit were nothing to write home about.

Mr. Haruna observed that despite its state, they had been residing in the facility for a very long time and appealed to government and benevolent organizations to come to their aid.

He blamed the breakdown in the extended family system for the increasing cases of juvenile crimes and underscored the need for the inculcation of good morals in children.

From Stephen Zoure, Tamale

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