After a recent survey found nearly one-third of the prison inmates across the State to be illiterates, the Karnataka Government is set to expand literacy programme to enable them to read and write, from November 1.
Of about 15,000 inmates — both convicts and undertrials lodged in 51 prisons — about 5,000 were found to be completely illiterate or with a capacity to only sign. Most of them are affixing their thumb impression for their signature.
The 51 prisons in Karnataka includes nine central prisons, 21 district prisons, 30 taluk prisons, and one open-air prison at Devanahalli near Bengaluru. Currently, about 11,200 prison inmates are undertrials and about 3,800 are convicts.
While the programme to bring literacy among these prisoners was launched by the Government at the Bengaluru Central Prison, it will be launched across all prisons in the State from November 1. In Bengaluru Central Prison, the biggest in Karnataka, of the about 4,800 inmates in the age group of 18 to 90, it was found that nearly 700 inmates were illiterates while about 580 inmates had studied up to standard V.
The jail authorities have formed batches of 10 inmates, who are illiterates, and they are brought under the wings of the inmates who can read and write.
“The idea is to utilise the services of well-educated prisoners to bring about literacy. Over a period of six months, they will be taught up to III standard syllabus,” Home Department sources said. “The prisoners will then become eligible to appear for SSLC-level examination conducted by the National Institute of Open Learning.”
To make the project a success, the prisoners chosen to teach illiterate prisoners will be trained through the trainers’ syllabus ‘Balige Belaku’ brought out by the Mass Education Department. Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said, “We are planning to provide remuneration to prisoners who will be roped in to teach. The help of outside tutors may also be taken.”
Mr. Jnanendra said, “These prisoners entered the jail by putting their thumb impressions. But we want them to put their signatures when they leave the jail.”
The highly educated
Bengaluru Central Prison currently has a PhD holder, three doctors, 28 BE/BCA degree holders, 111 BA/MA graduates, 116 ITI/diploma holders, 75 BCom/ MCom graduates, and about 30 BSc/MSc graduates, among others.