He said PRAI’s engagements, under its Juvenile Justice Support Programme, had shown that the borstal homes abound in raw talents and brilliant minds waiting to be harnessed.
He spoke with The PUNCH at the weekend during PRAI’s mentoring visit to the Special Correctional Centre for Boys, Oregun and the Children Correctional Centre for Girls, Idi-Araba, Lagos.
The Saturday visit to borstal homes in Lagos came a week after PRAI visited the Nigeria Correctional Service, Borstal Institution, Adigbe, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The programme featured a motivation speaking session with two Mandela Washington fellows, Onyedikachi Ekwerike and Amaka Ijiko, who shared their grass-to-grass stories with the boys and girls to inspire them. The children themselves made group presentations on topics ranging from sexual abuse to cultism during a speaking competition.
During a panel discussion, the children were enlightened on how to discover their talents and commercialise same.
The children, who also had an indoors games session, were fed by PRAI during the visit.
Speaking on the essence of the initiative, Adetola-Kazeem said, “In the past, PRAI worked with adult inmates in the conventional correctional centres but during a chance visit to a borstal institution I realised that the younger ones actually need us more because many of them are here because of the failings of their parents and the society at large.
“How do we now ensure that they get out of here as better persons and do not return to crimes? The essence is to give them an orientation that ensures a crime-free future.
“From our interactions in the borstal institutions that we have visited, we saw that there are lot of talents that need to be harnessed and what we have seen here today (Saturday) has reconfirmed that fact. The children have a bright future ahead of them but they need people to support them.”
On what parents and society could do better to raise responsible children, Adetola-Kazeem said, “Everybody can’t be rich but everybody can be responsible. We need more responsible parents that understand that children need to be properly guided.
“A parent that leaves home at 4am and returns at 11pm, what kind of children are they expected to raise? Children that are being taught through television and by peers or by parents who engage in vices, what kind of children do you think they will turn out to be? So, it is a failing of perenting and these children identified this fact during a speaking competition we organised for them.
“But irrespective of what their parents have done, how do we ensure that they live responsible lives? What support can we give as members of the society to ensure that they live as responsible members of the society and that is the gap we are trying to fill.”
The Principal, Special Correctional Centre for Boys, Oregun, Mr Salau Wasiu, said the centre was open to collaboration with PRAI and other like-minded institutions as “it will go a long way in shaping the lives of the children.”
Wasiu said, “In this place, we have raw talents that need to be harnessed because most of these children are children of circumstance. Their journey leading here may not be their fault; often it is a result of broken homes. Whether we like it or not, they are part of the future of this country and which is why we must help them.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]