The Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) recently opened a special study centre at Dasna district jail in Ghaziabad. The centre has been witnessing major enrolment from inmates who want to pursue their education despite their circumstances.
Till Friday, nearly 500 inmates had enrolled for various courses offered by the open university. In contrast, only 35 to 40 inmates were enrolled previously at the study centre in Meerut jail.
“The response to the centre opening up here has been very encouraging. Enrolment was earlier low as inmates who wanted to sit for examinations had to be shifted to Meerut jail for a month. This required permissions from courts and jail authorities and the inmates’ court hearings would also get affected. With the study centre set up on our premises, they will not face such difficulties,” said SP Yadav, superintendent, Dasna jail.
According to official estimates, nearly 50 women inmates have enrolled in different courses since the study centre became operational in January.
A 21-year-old woman undertrial, who has opted for further studies at the centre, said, “I studied up to class 12, but had to stop and find work due to my family’s poor financial situation. I was accused of a crime and landed in jail. I always wanted to continue my education, but circumstances did not permit me to do so. Now, this study centre has given me some hope that I will be able to study further and that too while still in jail,” she said.
Another 44-year-old woman undertrial, who does not have any formal qualification, also enrolled herself in a Ignou course recently.
“I could read and write, but never studied in school. Seeing the enthusiasm of the younger inmates, I have also enrolled myself in a food and nutrition course. I hope this will help me when I get out of jail,” she said.
Ignou is offering several courses such as BA, BCom, Bachelors in Preparatory Programme, and other certificate courses at this centre.
“The study material will be provided by the university and lecturers will provide our inmates with valuable inputs from time to time. The study centre has also helped women inmates come forward and pursue studies,” Yadav said.
The nearly 3,581 inmates that Dasna jail houses include graduates and post graduates with many holding degrees such as MBBS, MD, MBA and MTech. Referring to them, Yadav added, “We have qualified inmates who are willing to help out the Ignou students with their studies.”