Jail inmates may be confined within four walls, but some of them use this time to pursue their studies.
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) which has been enrolling jail inmates for various courses is seeing good results. Several of them are right now writing the university’s December term-end examinations inside the prison.
“We have study centres in Madurai and Tiruchi central prisons and it is encouraging for us when we see prisoners coming forward to study our courses,” S. Mohanan, Regional Director, IGNOU Madurai Regional Centre, said on Friday.
Totally, 17 prison inmates are taking the IGNOU’s term-end examinations which began on December 1. Of these, 11 are in Madurai Central Prison while the remaining six are inmates of central prison in Tiruchi.
Dr. Mohanan told The Hindu that the examination results will come in the month of February and the university has plans to reach out to more prisoners in coming days.
In Madurai prison, one inmate is studying MBA while another prisoner is taking a postgraduate course in public administration. Two inmates are writing BA exams and seven are doing Bachelor Preparatory Programme (offered in Tamil medium also) which leads them to join undergraduate courses in the next stage.
The trend in Tiruchi Central Prison too is encouraging. Jail inmates there are studying courses in public administration, nutrition and certificate programmes.
“We have deputed our university staff to conduct the term-end examinations. As the jail staffs become familiar with examination procedures, in future they themselves can supervise the exam work,” the Regional Director said. The Madurai Regional Centre of IGNOU covers 17 districts in southern and western parts of the State.
Certificate in Food and Nutrition, Certificate in Food Safety, Certificate Programme in Environmental Studies, Tourism Studies, Postgraduate Diploma in Disaster Management, BA, B.Com, Masters programme in political science, sociology, public administration and economics are being offered for the inmates of Madurai and Tiruchi prisons.
The salient feature of IGNOU’s foray in to prisons is that the inmates are given free education without any course fee since the cost is sponsored by the Government.
There are plans to increase the number of courses offered for jail inmates by introducing vocational/skill-oriented programmes focusing on employment and self-employment for prisoners so that they will be job-ready by the time they walk out of the jail.