Eight prisoners, including a death row convict and two women, have successfully completed their post-graduation from Indira Gandhi National Open University after it established two special Study centres for inmates at Nagpur and Amravati Central jails in 2010.
They are among the 414 jail inmates who have enrolled themselves with IGNOU for pursuing academics within the high prison walls in Vidarbha region. Of the 414 inmates, 349 are at lodged in Nagpur Central jail and remaining at Amravati Central jail.
The prison authorities have given one-month remission in prison term to those who have completed their MA from IGNOU, its Regional Director Dr Shivaraswaroop said in Nagpur on Tuesday.
All the eight prisoners, mostly serving life sentence, have cleared MA Sociology in their first attempt, he said.
Also, IGNOU is planning to engage prisoners who have done their MA Sociology to teach fellow inmates pursuing BA Sociology, so that they can earn some monetary gain.
Dr Shivaswaroop said that IGNOU's Nagpur Regional Centre caters to 14 districts of Eastern Maharashtra, including all the 11 districts of Vidarbha and three districts of Marathwada, namely Nanded, Hingoli and Parbhani.
The main target was 'Reaching the Unreached' with emphasis on sections which attracted less attention in education like jail inmates, interior tribals and rural women.
IGNOU is offering certifcate, diploma, under graduate and post graduate courses to them. Also, it has a Bachelors Preparatory Programme, BPP (a non-formal entry course for the
non 10 2 candidates to enter BA/ BCom of IGNOU) besides BA , MA in Sociology and MA in English.
It was observed that with their criminal and poor social backgrounds, many are not interested in studying traditional BA/MA Courses. But they are seen to be working in their bakery, welding units in the jail. So, we thought of devising courses of interest to them too, Dr Shivaswaroop said.
Accordingly, four vocational certificate courses were also launched through IGNOU Community Colleges at Nagpur Central Jail in Bakery, Carpentry, Dress Making and Welding.
For these courses, the jail has very good infrastructure and qualified instructors. These vocational certificate courses are very uniquely designed by us, he said.
During each admission period, an awareness meet is arranged in jail premises, for the Pre-Admission Counselling of prisoners where they are explained about various IGNOU Courses and the advantages of pursuing it.
IGNOU's objective is to help those who entered the jail as criminals, to leave the jail as educated citizens for which it is providing free education to them.
He said besides their in-house teachers, IGNOU has engaged four faculty from outside like from Gyan Vani FM Radio station, for teaching prisoners.
IGNOU activity in jails at Nagpur was started with a strong aim, especially at employability and assuring as well as equipping prisoners to live with dignity in out side society, to engage them in positive and constructive work, during their jail term and to convert their idle time in jail into a useful certificate, which reflects their knowledge and skills acquired, so that they can get recognition and suitable employment, after their release.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has already written to Home Secretaries of all state governments to open IGNOU Study Centres in jails, Dr Shivaswaroop added.