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IGNOU educates Jail Inmates

09 May, 2014

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has the mandate to democratize higher education through the open and distance learning mode. This National University, established by an Act of Parliament in 1985, provides opportunities for an inclusive and a successful learning environment for millions of learners from all sections of the society to acquire a University Certification for academic pursuits, gainful employment, and workplace education and for career progression.

The University has set up a vast network of 67 Regional Centres and 4 Sub-Regional Centres comprising of 56 Regular Regional Centres including 9 from the North-East, 6 Army Centres, 4 Navy Centres and 1 Assam Rifles Centre. The Study Centres located in jails across the country are a part of this network. Today there are 94 Special Study Centres in Jails that have been established across the country to cater to the educational requirements of the jail inmates leading to their socioeconomic rehabilitation.

IGNOU is perhaps the only University in the World who has such an extensive programmes of education and training for Jail inmates. IGNOU started its Centres in Jails way back in 1994 with one Centre in Tihar Jail with a nominal enrolment. Today IGNOU has 94 Study Centres across the country out of which 34 were added during 2012-2013. So far 25,000 inmates have benefited from this IGNOU initiative.

The following specific interventions made by IGNOU in Jails are worth mentioning.

1. For holding the December-2013 term end examinations of the University, 64 Exam centres were established in jails for jail inmates.

2. Along with academic programmes, vocational skill upgradation are also being considered in areas such as carpentry, bakery, welding, tailoring, Motor cycle Mechanic and other relevant vocational areas.

3. The University has also facilitated placement opportunities for several outgoing inmates. The first ever placement drive for prison inmates in the country was held at Tihar Central Jail No. 3.

4. Recently only last week during the placement drive of its inmates by the Tihar Jail, the highest salary package was offered to Mr. Raju, a Graduate in Social Work from IGNOU. He secured a job at Taj Group of Companies, where he will work as Assistant Business Development Manager.

IGNOU announced its ‘Free Education for Prisoners’ initiative in the 2010 academic session and waived off fees for all jail inmates across the country who wish to pursue the University’s programmes. This move has now been a significant milestone in encouraging and rehabilitating prisoners in order to improve their quality of post release life. Regular academic counselling sessions are provided either by the RC staff in some jails or nearby Study Centre.

Study materials and library facilities are provided through IGNOU to all jails under the supervision of an IGNOU Coordinator and supporting staff. Provisions have been made to operationalize every aspect of teaching-learning transaction, including holding of examination by for all students within the jail premises. IGNOU is also making efforts to provide study material in vernacular languages for some inmates.

There are quite a few success stories and achievements from different jails of the country. These inmates are gaining confidence by getting sustainable means of livelihood, becoming an indispensible support to their families and remarkably contributing to the society and their respective professions. IGNOU is committed to further strengthen its endevour to turn Jail inmates into meaningful assets for the society.