Two months after it helped Tihar jail achieve 100% literacy among its inmates, a rare feat, the Padho ya Padhao (Teach or Be Taught) project is likely to be replicated in prisons of four states.
"Over the past few months, prison officials from four states — Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Andhra Pradesh — have visited the jail and taken a keen interest in how the literacy project worked here," said a Tihar source.
"The officials were very impressed with what the project achieved in a crowded state facility and are hopeful about its potential in their state jails," he added.
Tihar jail’s spokesperson Sunil Gupta confirmed this. "We have provided the officials literature on the project, which seeks to reform criminals via education," he said.
Between April 2011 and April this year, the project equipped Tihar’s 2,500 inmates, who constituted the jail’s 40% illiterates — as identified in a survey, with skills of a Class 3 student: the ability to read 30 English or Hindi words in a minute, write 15 of them in 60 seconds, add or subtract numbers from zero to 1,000, and handle computers.
The project, which ran three-month teaching sessions, used instructors from the National Literacy Mission along with the help of educated inmates.
After completing a literacy session, every inmate took a test, which was evaluated by officials from the National Institute of Open Schooling.
The project is ongoing in Tihar, which gets about 175 new inmates everyday — around 20% of which are illiterate.