The nationwide Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for the year 2023 kicked off on Monday, August 7, 2023, across Ghana. A distinctive aspect of this year’s examination is the participation of 57 prisoners, signifying the ongoing efforts to provide education opportunities even within correctional facilities.
Out of the total prison candidates, 26 are from the Senior Correctional Centre of the Ghana Prisons Service, a facility primarily designated for juvenile offenders aged up to 21 years old. Additionally, there are 8 candidates from the Kumasi Central Prison, 9 from the Nsawam Medium Security Prison, and 4 from the Sunyani Central Prison who are also partaking in the BECE.
The all-male candidates from the Senior Correctional Centre fall within the age range of 13 to 21 years old, and they are joining students from regular schools in the Ayawaso District of Accra at the Bethany Methodist Junior High School to sit for the examination.
Prison officers have facilitated the inmates’ participation, escorting them to the examination center and ensuring a smooth process. After completing their papers, the inmates were returned to a bus labeled ‘Prisons’ that was on standby, ready to transport them back to the correctional facility.
The Deputy Director of Prisons, Millicent Owusu, expressed the thorough preparation the inmates received, including discussions, solving past exam questions, and psychological support. She emphasized the positive outcomes of previous BECE participants who excelled and continued their education.
Government support covered the registration fees for the inmates, while the Ghana Prisons Service took care of other associated costs. However, challenges persist in terms of resources, with a science teacher from the center appealing for assistance from individuals, corporations, and organizations to enhance teaching and learning.
The participating inmates have shown remarkable determination and aspirations for a better future. One inmate who had served a significant portion of his three-year sentence shared his desire for further education and advised young individuals to be obedient and respectful.
Another inmate, convicted for theft, expressed his ambition to become a mechanical engineer despite his circumstances and urged others to make better choices. Education was seen as a transformative path to a brighter future.
The Senior Correctional Centre, established in 1947 as a Borstal Home under the Social Welfare Department and later taken over by the Ghana Prisons Service in 1958, has evolved to offer education and vocational training to inmates. The effort to educate and equip inmates with skills reflects the commitment to rehabilitation and reintegration into society.