Education behind bars in Coimbatore

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REFORMATION: A workshop organised under the Valar Kalvi Scheme at Coimbatore Central Prison.
REFORMATION: A workshop organised under the Valar Kalvi Scheme at Coimbatore Central Prison.

Anasuya Menon

Illiterate prisoners are given basic lessons in language and arithmetic

COIMBATORE: If prisons are to be considered centres of reformation, prisoners ought to learn something new while serving their sentence. And what better than learning how to read and write?

The Coimbatore Central Prison, along with Valar Kalvi Thittam (the Government’s continuing education programme), has embarked upon imparting basic education to illiterate prisoners. Of the more than 2,000 inmates, 612 are illiterate, prison officials say. The programme is aimed at these prisoners who have not had formal education.

A Continuing Education Centre has been set up in the prison. And, the Valar Kalvi Scheme has appointed two instructors who will carry forward the programme in the jail.

“The prisoners have welcomed the programme, ” says G. Jothi Raja, coordinator of the Valar Kalvi programme. Two of the inmates serving life sentence, who are graduates, have also been appointed as instructors. They will be paid a stipend of up to Rs. 700 to encourage them to involve themselves in the teaching process.

Divided into groups

All the illiterate prisoners are divided into groups of 20 with one team leader.

The classes are held every day in the morning and evening for two hours. They are taken through the basics of English and also given training in sharpening their numerical skills. The books and materials required for the classes are provided by the Valar Kalvi Scheme officials. ‘Individual interest improvement,’ ‘income generation improvement,’ and ‘improvement of quality of life,’ are some of the other components of the programme.“Most of the prisoners are unable to find employment after their release. Though a number of non-Governmental organisations in aid of prisoners have sprung up, not many prisoners have been able to cope with the societal stigma after their release, ” says P. Munivelu, Deputy Inspector General of Prisons, Coimbatore Range.

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