The Network of Budding Psychologists (NetBuPs) is a movement of young people pursuing psychology as a programme or other related courses with the hope of becoming psychologists in future. This movement is based on the Rogerian principle of humanism. The association adopts a positive view of humanity and upholds the goodness of man. Currently, the association is only operating in the University of Cape coast. The Network of Budding Psychologists aims at reaching out to labelled groups, conducts rigorous research for the benefit of society and also developing the potentials of its members. As part of its mission to reach out to devalued groups and stigmatized groups, the association organizes educational trips to seek for enlightenment and make certain observations. The NetBuPs group mostly embarks upon fact-finding trips to learn more about these devalued groups, to know the conditions in which they live and make recommendations towards the improvement of their lives. In the light of this, The Network of Budding Psychologists undertook an educational trip to New Horizon Special School and Shelter for Abused Children, Boys and Girls Remand   and Correctional Centre in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. This educational trip took place on the 13th of November, 2015.The NetBuPs members with a numerical strength of 42 who embarked on the trip, set off from the University of Cape Coast for Accra at exactly 6:00am.The trip was financed by its members, who were offered breakfast and lunch in addition to their transportation.


This literature therefore, seeks to chronicle what transpired during the trip to New Horizon Special School, Shelter for Abused Children, Remand and Probation Centre. The report tries to elaborate on the findings, observations, practices and certain challenges facing these places.






New Horizon Special School is situated in a suburb of Accra called Cantonment, and it is considered the first special school in Ghana. It was established in 1972 under the guardianship of Mrs Salome Francois, and has been legally registered as a Voluntary, Non-Profit-Making and Chari­table Insti­tution in Ghana. The establishment of the school was driven by the fact that Mrs Salome Francois`s child was intellectually disabled who was placed in a special school and showed maximum improvement. Buoyed by the fact that her child showed high development in her academics, she sought to extend this help to other children with learning difficulties.


 The name New Horizon was adopted from a special school in America. The motivation for the establishment of this special school was to provide access for children with various disabilities to maximize their potentials.




At around 10:00am, the NetBuPs team arrived on the premises of New Horizon Special School. One could see the well laid environment that was dressed with ornamental plants. Neuroscience research suggests that the organization of the environment has profound impact on children`s cognitive abilities, serenity and also aids in easy acquisition of social skills. As demonstrated by Maria Montessori, New Horizon believes that the environment is vital to the development of the child.


We were welcomed by the principal of the school, Madam Vanessa Adu-Akorsah and her   staff. One of the staff members who welcomed us was an alumnus of University of Cape Coast. Soon we were greeted by a student, who by her actions, one could notice her problem was ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). We were directed to the school field where students, staff and visitors were engaged in ‘Right to Play’. Exercise is known to help in developing neurocognitive abilities in individuals. Exercise increases motivational states including self-confidence and social acceptance as well as significant increase in positive mood in the intellectually disabled (Vogt T et al 2012). To re-affirm this, New Horizon Special School sees exercise as key to rehabilitating the intellectually disabled. Soon some music followed and the special students displayed wonderful dancing skills to the admiration of all and sundry.


 Thereafter, the NetBuPs team was put into two groups to tour the facilities of the school. Two of staff members were asked to take us round the school facility. They explained to us that different disability including Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and ADHD were exhibited by the students. We were told that the school consisted mainly of two sections: the academic section and the vocational section. There is also an autistic centre.




 The academic section provides basic education on an individual basis for children aged 4 -16 years. It must be pointed out that the academic section is for persons between 4- 16 years because most of them cannot take academic work after 18 years.  The students learn skills for life such as self-help, environmental and communicative skills, as they need to be helped to tell their needs and share opinions and feelings with others. They also learn Mathematics, Reading, Writing, Art and Craft, Music, Prevocational skills, Health and Safety, Activities of Daily Living Skills, Physical Education and Computer Literacy. This section is aimed at equipping children to rise to their highest potentials in the academic arena. An Individualized Evaluation Program is organized every year for each child and the class teachers as well as the parents sit in this meeting.


It is important to establish that, the classes are grouped base on the abilities of students rather than their specific disability. When we inquired how they manage different categories in one class, we were told that every student had an individualised education Plan (IEP) that specified objectives to be met by the end of the year. We were told that the IEP was reviewed periodically to ascertain the progress of the students. We were also made to understand that different approaches are used for each individual special child. Another reason for mixing different categories is to prevent labelling of classes such as the Autistic class, Cerebral Palsy class and so on.


 When a colleague asked a question about why the school preferred segregation rather than inclusive education, we were told that most of the students required special attention which they will be denied in an inclusive class. The classes had names such as lily, lala, sunflower and jasmine. There is a maximum of ten students in a class with a class teacher and a class assistant.


In today’s world where information and communication technology is seen as an integral part of society, the school has an ICT centre. As we entered the centre, we saw one student displaying his typing skills. We were told that students were allowed to go to the centre once a week while others go there more than once depending on their progress. Students surf the internet and are also taught how to type and do some basic computing skills. We were told that most of the students could surf the popular social media Facebook. We were also told that this helped the students to develop higher cognitive function.


 The school has an ultra-modern physio-centre that helps to rehabilitate children with movement problems. The school also has a room for sensory stimulation, mostly used to help children with certain sensory restrictions and sensory overload. We were made aware that the school had introduced a new concept called group meetings, where students discussed social issues, engaged in role- play and taught certain social skills. It needs to be stressed that, before one gets admitted into the school, the individual`s medical and psychological reports are needed. There is also clinical assessment and recommendation before admission is granted to a student with special need. Once every year, a paediatrician visits the school to do further assessments.



Vocational centre at new horizon special school


The vocational section of the school was founded 20 years after the establishment of the school. The purpose is to train individuals in various fields and also to know their interests. It equips individuals with training and employment in vocational and daily living skills to those who are older. The mature students  who are 17 years and over, some of whom are able to read and write simple sentences, and have reached a moderate level of productivity, worked as trainees with very little supervision. Students who constantly retrogress receive help from the vocational centre. The students also receive continuous education in literacy, numeracy and computer skills. They make items such as Christmas and all purpose cards, basketry trays, stools and beds with woven bases doormats, and woodwork, batik and tie-dye material, table cloths and scatter-cushions and hand sewn Ghanaian dressed dolls among others. The trainees receive allowance for the sale of their items to boost their sense of achievement. The head of the vocational centre stressed that students begin to see their worth when they acquire the training skills. The school organises an annual exhibition to showcase the products made by the trainees to the public. We were led to an exhibition centre which housed some of the exquisite products made by the students. Some of the members of the Netbups team were marvelled upon seeing the products. We purchased some of the products as a sign that we appreciate what they are doing.


It must be pointed out that New Horizon is not a boarding school because they believe in family interaction as being important to the development of the intellectually disabled. Also one could realise the stressful nature of the work. However, some workers told us that, they have the passion for the job and also derive so much happiness from seeing children recover.


    As challenges are inevitable in life, the school faces an array of challenges that it seeks to resolve to continue helping students to reach their potentials. One major area the school is challenged is finance. The school solely depends on the fee they charge students, donations and fund raising and also through the sale of products from the vocational centre.  It must be established that the school does not receive any government subventions or aid.

    Another challenge the school is encountering is with issues of employment of their trainees especially from their vocational centre. Most trainees are being denied a job in other settings because their abilities are doubted. This means that trainees who finish their respective training still cannot get jobs outside the school setting because they are not accepted.

    Again, though the school through its Parent Association for Children with Intellectual Disability (PACID) program is educating people on intellectual disability, they expressed concern about the stigma attached to individuals with special needs. They emphasize the co-operation of the public to help in integrating individuals into the mainstream society. They shared concern about the ongoing misconceptions and superstitions people have about children with intellectual disability.

    Moreover, the school also stressed that some parents keep their children in the house upon realising their children have certain intellectual problems in order to avoid shame and stigmatization of their families.

    Finally the school expressed concern about the lack of Ghanaian volunteers who wished to work with these individuals. They stated that most volunteers are foreigners and there are few Ghanaians.




The centre is located in a suburb of Accra called Osu. Historically the Remand and Probation centre was established by the British in 1946 under the auspices of the Department of Social Welfare in fulfilment of the core values of providing Community Care, Justice Administration and Child Rights and Protection. It must be noted that the facility is made up of four units under one management, namely The Boys Remand Home, The Junior Girls Remand and Correctional Centre, The Shelter for Abused Children and The South Labone Girls Vocational Training School.

The Boys Remand Home was the first Remand Home for juveniles below 18 years who are in conflict with the law but now there are more in other regions of Ghana .Also, the Remand Home is a temporary asylum for the juveniles in conflict with the law pending their trials in juvenile courts. The Juvenile Justice Act,2003(Act653) does not permit juveniles in conflict with the law to be remanded in prisons with adults and therefore they are sent to the remand homes for a period not exceeding six months. The boys are mostly brought from court but sometimes the police bring them. It must be stressed that before juveniles who are in conflict with the law are admitted into the facility, they must be a court warrant and it should be within 24 hours. The case workers and social welfare officers ensure that the juveniles are in safe custody and they are fed three times daily. This is in line with Abraham Maslow’s emphasis on the provision of basic needs such as food, water and shelter for the growth and sustenance of individuals.



At around late noon, we were on the compound of the Remand Home. We were warmly welcomed by officials who later we realized were social workers. We were made to know that the place is managed by the Department of Social Welfare. The Department of Social Welfare is statutorily mandated by the Children’s Act, 1998 to oversee the administration of juvenile justice and the protection of children in general. Mr Christopher Komla is the assistant in charge of the Boys Remand Home which is located within the centre. The staff in the Boys Remand Home includes, Case workers, Technical officers and social workers. Mr Christopher Komla who served as the facilitator explained that they made sure they created a child –friendly environment to help reshape children who are caught up by law. He further explained that though they worked with other officials such as the Police and the court they are required not to show any sign such as wearing their uniforms as this creates huge anxiety and unstableness in children. He continued that the compound housed four sections the shelter for abused, the remand home and the correctional centres and South Labone Girls Vocational Training Centre


 The shelter for abused is a place deployed for children who are exposed to harsh treatment and activities that are unhealthy considering their age. Its responsibility is to seek for the welfare of the children who are victims of child abuse. He disclosed to us that most of the children usually come from the villages  and brought to the city to do menial jobs. He continued by saying that these children are brought to the city to engage in all sort of hard labour without even going to school. He also said that the abused children are either brought in by good Samaritans or through the efforts of the staff. He expressed concern about parents who allow their children to be taken to the cities by others with the view that they were going to take care of them. He explained that most of the children end up engaging in activities that hinder their development. When a colleague asked about the issue of what composed of child abuse, he outlined that there is only abuse when a particular activity affects or impedes the development of the child or affects their health in a negative way. However, he emphasized that if the activity is for socialization purpose it is not considered Abuse.


In accordance with the juvenile justice act, when a bail has not been approved, the juvenile who is in conflict with the law, is sent to the nearest remand home or remanded to a responsible guardian. We were told that there is a remand home for both boys and girls that were situated on the same compound. However the two centres were separated as is required by the Juvenile Justice Act 2003 (Section 23 – 7) .We were made aware that the remand centre provided protection for juvenile offenders. In defining who a juvenile offender is our facilitator said that they are individuals between the ages of 12 and 17 years who are in conflict with the law. Inmates are required to stay at the centre for not more than 6 months. Since the boys are usually staying at the remand home for less than 6 months (due to the work of the Juvenile Justice Project), the social workers cannot focus on skills training. They still try to create awareness and introduce them to a trade, but their time at the Remand Home is too short to actually teach them. Also, even if they wanted to start a program, there is no funding for skills training as the Department says there is little reason to focus on teaching the boys. The social workers give mainly social education to the boys at the remand home, on topics such as health, HIV, environment, and drugs. Some volunteers come in to give lessons on these topics. The social workers give counselling themselves. Counselling focuses mainly on the purpose for which they were brought to the home.


The Girls Remand Home follows the same pattern as the Boys’. They are given basic education during their stay.The Remand Home pays hospital bills, but if the parents are around, the social workers appeal to them for money to cater for their wards. The Remand Home gets loans if necessary in order to pay for the needs of the children. The remand home encourages parents to visit and to bring supplementary clothing or food. Of course, many youth at the remand home do not know their parents or will not tell the social workers where their parents are. Though Family visits are unlimited, a lot of family members do not visit for various reasons.


For those girls that are sentenced and living at the Junior Girl’s Correctional Centre, education is more intense and the girls must learn a trade. They are taught different skills that they can turn into vocations, such as bead making, hairdressing, tailoring, manicure and pedicure. The goal of the Correctional Centre is to give the girls basic skills that will help them begin a different life once they are released. The vocational centre adopts a community –psychology like approach to deviance that seeks to prevent girls from going into crime in future. It is purposely meant for those who can read and write thus, this the minimum requirement.


We were made aware that the centre utilised various psychological theories to help reform individuals. A theory such as the client –centred theory is used to help inmates. In using this approach, Case Workers and Social workers present individuals with several alternatives for them to understand so that they can make a meaningful choice. They explain the consequences associated with each alternative. The centre also applied the principle of role –play to reshape and help the inmates to acquire certain skills. Character formation is also used to inculcate certain values into inmates .Our facilitator stressed that the theories are flexible in its application when used at centre and they achieve high outcomes.






One could observe that the buildings were very old and were not in good shape. The buildings at the compound were built in 1946, and very little has been updated since then. The remand home especially is in disrepair. There is not sufficient space to adequately house the juveniles.


In general, the juvenile justice system suffers from a lack of funding. However, this is perhaps most acute and noticeable at the Osu`s compound. The compound greatly relies on its support from UNICEF and NGOs and some churches and would likely not be able to function without these funds. As it has been stated, the infrastructure is in need of repair but there is no funding with which to do it.


Another problem observed was that, there were insufficient workers at the centre. There are only few social workers at the Boy’s Remand Home, the Girl’s Remand Home and Correctional Centre. This is insufficient due to the number of juveniles at the facility and the supervision required.


Also it was observed that there was no professional counsellor or clinician to identify emotional and behavioural problems to be able to assist them to adjust.








  1. One challenge we encountered during our fact finding trip was lack of funds to support the trip. Netbups is an association composed mainly of students who do not have regular source of income and therefore, we are unable to carry out our activities that demands money.

  2. Also, we had wanted to spend more time to make certain observations at the two institutions we visited,  however we could not do so due to time constraints.

  3. There could also be the tendency for social desirability bias in our report because we relied primarily on information given by workers of the two institutions we visited in coming out with this report.










Base on the findings and observation made at the various places, it will be important to make certain recommendations so that stakeholders can appropriately address the issues.


We observed that the two places we visited are lacking finances for their activities. New Horizon Special School though private, should be supported by the government so they can help these children. The support of various benevolent groups is also welcomed. The Department of Social Welfare is supposed to give funding every quarter, but the sum is often small and delayed therefore, the centre relies greatly on money from NGO`s.


 It is our appeal that agencies involved in releasing funds should do it as early as possible. We also appeal to the ministries to at least increase funds allocated to the centre so they can engage in their work diligently.


Also we appeal to the government to help in renovating the remand and correctional centres. The infrastructures are in a poor shape and this serves as an impediment to reforming these individuals. Since the facility was built in 1946 it has hardly received any form of renovation.


The lack of laws to protect children with special needs is also of great concern. We therefore recommend that government and stakeholders enact certain specific laws to protect the right of these individuals.


By reviewing literature we realised that there was lack of research in both the areas of special education in Ghana and juvenile justice in Ghana. It is our recommendation that the ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection should create a platform such as offering grants to researchers to help them conduct resounding research. There should be a research team also created purposely to conducting action research to help these overlooked institutions.


Also, we are appealing to the parents and guardians who have their wards suffering from various forms of disabilities not to keep them in the house since these children have the right to be educated irrespective of their disabilities.


 With respects to the correctional centres, we recommend that they form a strong connection with the parents of the child in custody so that they can visit them regularly. Parents are therefore required to go in line with the Salamanca declaration which states that every child has the right to education. This can be achieved when we have strong legislation guiding the education of children with special needs.


As both the New Horizon Special School and Shelter for Abused Children, Remand and Correctional Centre have challenges in the aspect of personnel because of inadequate personnel, it is our recommendation that the needed professionals should be recruited to supplement existing ones.


Finally, due to the traumatic experience these individuals go through it will be better to have a stationed clinical psychologist or counsellor to help the children at the Shelter for Abused Children, Remand and Correctional centre.




In a nutshell this literature has revealed knowledge about some of the practices, challenges faced by the above places. It has also made certain recommendations to inform appropriate stakeholders to act quickly and efficiently to address those issues. It is our hope that various individuals will propagate the message of humanism and appreciating the goodness of humans as espoused by Carl Rogers.


















Hoffmann, S  and Baerg, C (2011) A Study to Assess the Status of Juvenile Justice in Ghana.,     Africa Office: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.


Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653) [Ghana] retrieved 0n 2nd February 2016 from                http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/44bf87374.html.


Vogt T., Schneider, S., Abeln, V., Anneken, V., and Struder, H. K (2012).Exercise, Mood and Cognitive Performance in Intellectual Disability- A neurophysiological approach.        ’Behavioural brain research, 226 (2) 473- 480.




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To make psychology one of the tools for nation building by bringing it to the doorsteps of all and sundry as successfully done in other jurisdictions.



blockquoteWe are so made, that we can only derive intense enjoyment from a contrast and only very little from a state of things.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

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