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Prison education to be multilingual

india Updated: Dec 22, 2006 12:52 IST
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Due to an initiative of open universities, prisoners across India will now get to pursue education in their own languages.

Prisoners across India will now get to pursue education in their own languages, thanks to an initiative of open universities.

Realising that numerous prisoners did not know English or Hindi in which most textbooks are available, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in New Delhi has decided to translate them into regional languages.

The aim is to make the prisoners self-reliant by the time they get out of jails.

"We are providing education in only 19 jails in the country but the actual number of jails are around 1,140 with 3,26,519 inmates," AS Narang, a political science professor and coordinator of the human rights project at IGNOU, said.

"We cannot reach out to all of them, so we have decided to tie up with state open universities to provide study material in regional languages," said Narang.

He said the IGNOU had study centres only in central jails.

"We were approached by state open universities to provide study material and we have decided to translate these books in regional languages to reach out to more prisoners," he added.

"The books are mostly available in Hindi and English only and sometimes inmates find it difficult to study them."

Narang said over 300 inmates are taking up different examinations this year in different jails, but the number is still less as compared to the total number of prisoners. A majority of inmates are school dropouts.

Punjab's prisons have 648 graduates and Uttar Pradesh's 137.

"We believe that the only way to eradicate crime from society is through good education and employment generation. We have introduced certain courses in our curriculum, so inmates can get jobs or start their own business soon after their jail term is over," Narang added.

He said that some of the subjects that are most desired by prisoners are computer application, tourism and disaster management.

Narang said prisoners, especially in Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir, had benefited from courses aimed at promoting tourism.

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