Education in Prison has advantages for both Individuals and to Society. Individual Prisoner is benefitted with change in his thinking and understanding, so that he/she will have a better and positive Life. Also with this Educational qualification, they can be gainfully employed, after their release. Thus it reduces the RECIDIVISM (repeated offenders and there by repeatedly going to Jail). They also start paying Tax to the Government. On the other side, the Governments also save money on Prisons, with reduced prisoners due to reduced Recidivism. UNESCO recognises that Education is a human right to which all people are entitled, irrespective of their background or circumstances. Since 2014, the International Day of Education in Prison was celebrated on 13th October every year. The Day is an important opportunity to highlight the benefits of Prison Education.
For any Service, the three important Dimensions are: Availability, Accessibility and Utilisation. Let us see the Educational opportunity provided by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Nagpur Regional Centre to Prisoners in Vidarbha. As a Social Responsibility and to encourage Prisoners Education, IGNOU also offers Free Education to Prisoners.
Since its inception in 2009, IGNOU Nagpur Regional Centre has been focussing on “Reaching the Unreached Sections “ of the Society and providing Higher Education opportunity to them. Many people in these Sections have left their desire for Higher Education due to their Social, Economical and Geographical conditions. They are not aware of flexibility available in Distance Education. So sincere efforts are made to explain them the importance of Education, the available methods and benefits etc. “Gyan Ganga “ Awareness Meetings are held at their places of Residence, followed by Admission Camps, Induction Meetings and Mobile Counselling Sessions at their places. Prisoners are one such Unreached Section, focussed by Nagpur Regional Centre.
In consultation with Prison Authorities, IGNOU Special Study Centres were started in Nagpur and Amravati Central Prisons in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Since then, persistent efforts are made to sensitise the Prisoners about Education. Through Gyan Ganga Meetings, they are explained about importance of Education, the Free Education offered by IGNOU and also advised to utilise their Free Time in Jail in positive and constructive manner by studying through IGNOU. It is glad to know that starting with 12 students in First Batch in 2011, today Nagpur Region has 1125 Cumulative Strength of Student Prisoners in the Region. They pursue various courses of BA, MA, MBA and some Certificate Courses. It is also glad to know that they are serious in studies and around 25 Prisoners received their Undergraduate and Post Graduate Degrees.
As a special measure, Innovative Phone in Radio Counselling is conducted especially for Student Prisoners of Nagpur Central Prison. The “Live” Classes are held through Gyan Vani FM Radio Nagpur. The Schedule is announced one week before, so the students also get ready by going through their study material of the particular Topic and also note down their doubts/clarifications. At the scheduled time, the Teacher sits in the Gyan Vani studio and explains the Topic. Students sit in the Jail class room and listen through the specially provided FM Radio. The student prisoners’ doubts are asked by the IGNOU Coordinator of the Jail study Centre through Phone. The Teacher explains and clarifies, the students listen through Radio.
To motivate them towards Education, various competitions are also held for the Student Prisoners on various occasions like National Science Day, Constitution Day etc. They actively participate and the winners of the competitions were presented Certificates and Prizes (Books) through the hands of Eminent Personalities like Vice Chancellor, Director etc.
Thus, the spirit of International Day of Education in Prison is actively carried forward by the joint efforts of IGNOU and the Jail Authorities and the enthusiasm shown by Prisoners.