Borstal Institutions in Kenya
Borstal Institutions in Kenya: In 1963, the country’s first Parliament enacted a Borstal Institutions Act Chapter 92 to provide for detention of youthful offenders. This gave rise to the nation’s first such institution in Kakamega named Shikusa Borstal Institution (BI). The model was heavily borrowed from England’s Kent District at a village called Borstal. The construction of Shikusa Borstal was started by the colonial government in 1952. On September 20 1963, Shikusa Borstal opened its doors to the first offender who was SHB/01/1963 Peter Kabuga from Murang’a.
In September 1965, Shimo La Tewa Borstal Institution was opened to serve as an overflow for Shikusa. It has a capacity of about 320. The facility receives inmates from Coast, Lower Eastern, Garissa and North Eastern and parts of Central but the majority are from Western, Nyanza, Nairobi and Rift Valley. Some from Eastern and Central go to Shikusa.
The BIs hold boys from age 15 to 18 for a maximum of three years irrespective of the (gravity of) the offence. However, those who show positive change can be released after a year. The superintendent in charge has to authorise such a release. However, the parole terms can be revoked if and when the conditions for release are not met. The (violent) nature of the inmate’s home environment is also gauged before release.
Contrary to popular belief, Kamiti Youth Corrective Training Centre is not a BI. The centre admits adults over 18 years but below 21 years who serve a maximum sentence of four months practicing vocational training. This, however, does not mean that BIs do not offer vocational training.
BIs offer training in carpentry, masonry, tailoring, painting and wiring besides formal education (Class Seven and Eight). Last year, Shikusa introduced secondary education.
Currently, they are two in the country, namely:
- Shimo la Tewa in the Coastal Region
- Shikutsa in Kakamega District
They are administered by the Prisons Department and are, therefore, part of the penal system of Kenya, unlike other custodial institutions housing children which are managed by the Department of Children’s Services.
They are located in close proximity to adult persons and only admit young male offenders aged between 15 and 17 years for a period of not more than three years. At present, there is no borstal institution for young female offenders.
The Borstal Institution Act empowers the Permanent Secretary to establish and dissolve them.
State of education in Borstal Institutions in Kenya
In its quest to achieve education excellence, students at Shikusa Borstal institution are faced with a major challenge of finding sponsors.
According to the institution’s head teacher Mr. Leafricanas Beru, most students fail to proceed to secondary school upon completion of standard eight due to lack of school fees as all of them depend on probation officers as their key sponsors.
“ This students are willing to exploit heights of education but school fees is the limiting factor, only few manage to proceed through the sponsorship of probation officers,” says Leafricanas.
The institution has a total number of 46 candidates who are expected to sit for the forth coming national examination, KCPE and according to their head teacher they are well prepared as they were not affected by the teachers strike that paralyzed learning in public institutions.
“Our students are more than ready for the exams as they were not affected by the strike because we not only depend on teachers from TSC but we have our own deployed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, ” said Leafricanas.
The institution admits students every season (yearly) who contravened the laws of the land and as the deputy head teacher Mr. Josephat Okombe who has been with the institution since 1992 explains that the good thing they join the institution knowing they are spoilt and they strive to change.
“We us teachers we encourage them to understand that they have come to be corrected. We us teachers consider them us students and not criminals.”
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The Superintendent-In-Charge John Koech called on well wishers to chip in and support the students as most of them have poor family backgrounds as others are orphans and others were street boys when they are told to go home after serving their sentence it sounds like an abuse to them because the only home they know is the institution.
Koech regretted that all the efforts to access bursary for the students from the area CDF kitty was futile as the board dismissed their request on grounds that the institution is not benefiting the locals. A statement that Superintendent Koech says underscores the role the institution plays to the community as skill oriented subjects are taught and they have also an elderly class that gives avenue for those within the surrounding community whom didn’t have a chance to school to at least learn to read and write. The institution also serves as the centre for trade tests for various courses.
Koech also echoed the head teachers and his deputy sentiments that the boys are not criminals but only in dire need of education and there called on well wishers to show up and sponsor them. The institution has sent students to Kakamega High, Chavakali, Kimilili and Ingotse High schools.
Shikusa Borstal institution is a youthful corrective centre that caters for boys between ages 15-18 years in conflict with law. The institution was established in 1963 by an Act of Parliament Chapter 92 Laws of Kenya necessitated by the need of protected youthful offenders from contamination by mixing them with other criminals.
There only two such institutions in Kenya; Shikusa and Shimo Borstal institutions. In Africa there only in three countries with such facilities that is Kenya, Malawi and Egypt.