Coimbatore Central Prison is getting ready to offer a number of short-term courses for its inmates with the help of Government Industrial Training Institute.

Talking to The Hindu, the Superintendent of Central Prison – Coimbatore, S. Rajendran, said that the objective of providing education to the prison inmates- those facing trial and those serving sentences- was only to keep them occupied and also to make sure that the process of education refines them and prevent them from being harsh and crude.

In addition, there is always a social stigma against those discharged from prison in terms of providing them employment opportunities. Not all the prisoners are hardcore criminals and many of them are victims of circumstances who commit an offence in a fit of rage. The period used for serving the sentence could also be used for learning a skill/acquiring knowledge to become self-employed or could even turn entrepreneurs is the idea behind introducing these courses.

On discharge from prison after serving the sentence, isolation or alienation by the society because of the stigma or taboo against the prisoners, should not turn them into habitual offenders and make them turn to crime as their career, Mr. Rajendran added.

Convict prisoners get a chance to pursue education besides working in the powerloom, binding unit, handloom, file pad manufacturing unit, tailoring unit and carpentry. Remand and undertrial prisoners are not given any work. As on date, Coimbatore Central Prison has 1,800 persons either facing trial or serving the sentence. Of this, 850 are remand prisoners or undertrials, 980 are convicts and 80 are detenus.

Of the total inmates, already 17 are pursuing eighth standard education, 15 are doing their SSLC and seven are into HSLC. In addition, 14 prisoners are doing their post-graduation with Tamil Nadu Open University, two are doing post-graduation and one in under-graduation with Madras University and six are doing UG courses with Bharathiar University.

Interestingly, not looking for any certificate, 30 prisoners are undergoing their basic literacy programme. Forty prisoners are learning courses in computer and desktop publishing. Taking a cue from this statistics indicating the prisoners’ interest for education, the Prison Department has now tied up with the Government Industrial Training Institute to offer courses for remand prisoners and undertrials with course duration ranging 100 hours, 120 hours and 150 hours. If they show interest, convict prisoners can also opt for such courses.

The courses to be offered now included book binding, readymade garment making, textile painting/printing, tailoring, carpet making, weaving, electrician, computer servicing, nursing assistants, pharmacist, security guards, doll making besides courses in Indian cuisine. The knowledge acquired could come in handy for them to work and earn in the prison units and the learning and experience could come in handy on their discharge, he added. The courses are likely to begin by March-end or April beginning and enrolment is going to begin.

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