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Home > India > News > Specials

The Rediff Special/ Ganesh Nadar in Coimbatore

Prison is no bar for studying here

April 10, 2008

There is no bar for studying even if you are behind bars. That is the message the central jail in Coimbatore sends out. Making things better, the prisoners now can give their exams on the premises itself.

Slowly, the results are showing, and the prison DIG, P Munivelu, is happy.

Says the officer, "Holding exams on the premises is important. Earlier, the prisoners had to go outside to write exams, accompanied by armed guards. It was embarrassing for them and it also made other students nervous."

According to the officer, it was better to treat the prison as a place for reforms than a place for punishment. The guards, he said, had been advised to act like teachers.

Of the 2500 inmates in the prison, around 1500 are under-trials. Inmates, who have been awarded long-term punishment, are being encouraged to study.

The prison authorities have initiated a step-by-step approach to the learning process.

It starts from teaching prisoners to read and write. Then, up to Class X and XII.

At the undergraduate level, authorities said, they can study either in the Indira Gandhi [Images] Open University or in MS University.

"At least 53 students are enrolled for degree courses and 80 for school-level classes. There are 15 for Class XII," they said.

Interestingly, 12 teachers are inmates, who have BEd and MEd degrees. Other teachers are being sent by non-governmental organisations. The prisoner-teachers are paid a nominal amount.

Authorities said the credit for the path-breaking initiative should go to B M Esra, former DIG, who has a masters degree in criminology.

Besides, they say the Centre also has been encouraging to set up such study centres.

Besides learning, authorities also invite religious heads to lecture prisoners on various faiths.

A proud Munivelu shows a letter written by an ex-inmate --  now working outside--   thanking him for making him learn the rudiments.


"The letter occupies a special place in the prison diary," says Munivelu.


Image: DIG Munivelu welcomes Collector Neeraj Mittal, when he came to inaugurate the study centre in the Central Jail in Coimbatore

The Rediff Specials