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Making Tihar 100% literate

delhi Updated: Apr 10, 2011 01:02 IST
Abhishek Sharan
Abhishek Sharan
Hindustan Times
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For long, Ram Kumar (39), a trained electrician, has nurtured a dream — to pen a loving letter to his graduate wife, without taking any help from a stranger or an acquaintance.

Chances are Kumar, convict for robbery and lodged at Tihar Jail, will be able to make his dream come true within a few weeks.

From April 13, for two hours every morning, from 8.30am to 10.30am, Tihar's 10 sub-jails will turn into virtual classrooms focussing on turning the unlettered into literate as part of a new project.

The proposed literacy project, titled 'Study or Teach (Padho Ya Padhao), is set to be undertaken by the prison authorities with the help of National Literacy Mission (NLM), Tihar spokesperson Sunil Gupta said.

Kumar and the prison's other illiterate inmates — 31% of the total prisoners' population (11, 000) — will be required to attend these classes while attendance for adolescents and women inmates will be mandatory.

Inmates would be taught to read and write in Hindi and English and exposed to basic arithmetic, science and grammar under a six-week NLM module, according to a prison source.

"Delhi high court's Chief Justice Dipak Misra will inaugurate the literacy project on April 13," said Gupta.

As part of the project, the NLM would be making extensive usage of the prison's literate inmates.

"The National Literacy Mission authorities have already trained around 50 educated inmates to teach the unlettered," said Gupta.

The idea fuelling the project is the belief that education can serve as a powerful antidote to crime. "Education curbs criminal instincts, creates livelihood options," said Gupta.

Kumar and others like him could use a homegrown inspiration to fire themselves up.

"Three years ago, a rape convict lodged here had competed in the All India Civil Services for the Indian Administrative Service though he could not join somehow," Gupta recounted.

He added, "There were inmates who would say, 'why should I study in jail since I had willingly quit the classroom? We will turn the jail into a classroom to deter such characters from joining it then."