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‘Testing’ times for convicts in Tiruchi

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new course: The façade of Central Prison in Tiruchi.
new course: The façade of Central Prison in Tiruchi.

R. Rajaram

Examination fever grips jail inmates

TIRUCHI: It is ‘testing’ times for a section of convicts of the Central Prison and the Special Prison for Women here who had enrolled themselves for various graduate degree programmes offered by Tamil Nadu Open University (TNOU).

The examination fever has caught up with these lifers who had joined various degree courses only last year. The examinations, which commenced with the Tamil language paper on Saturday and English on Sunday, will be conducted on weekends over the next few weeks. It concludes in the first week of August.Forty three convicts, including six women, have appeared for the exam over the past two days in the Central Prison and Special Prison for Women.

The convicts have enrolled themselves for courses such as History, Economics, Public Administration, English Literature, Political Science, Social Work, Computer Applications, Psychology and Commerce. The desire to get a degree prompted many lifers to go in for higher education in the Central Prison that houses over 2,000 inmates. Of the total inmates, as many as 950 are convicts.

Age no bar

Age factor has not come in the way as a few of them are aged above 50 years. Many of the lifers who enrolled for these courses had completed their Plus Two, prison authorities told The Hindu.

The course materials were provided free of cost by the university and no examination fee was charged. The state government has borne the entire funding for their study, says a senior prison official.

Regular classes were conducted inside the sprawling prison complex for these convicts by taking the assistance of representatives of some non-governmental organisations. The services of ‘prisoner teachers,’ who had completed their Masters programme, were also utilised. There were few more convicts who were pursuing graduate and postgraduate degree courses through the distance education mode offered by University of Madras and Manonmaniam Sundaranar University.

This apart, 74 of them had joined diploma courses offered by the TNOU in four-wheeler mechanism, fashion designing, home electrician, air-conditioning and refrigeration. Ever since plumbing course was introduced in the early 1990s, over 400 inmates have been trained in this trade and provided certificates. For the illiterate, classes were being conducted under the Continuing Education Programme, said jail officials.

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