Bangalore: If all goes well, a special study centre of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will soon be started at the Parappana Agrahara or Bangalore Central Prison. Once started, it will be the first such centre of the university in the State.
As a beginning, the study centre will offer a six-month Bachelor’s Preparatory Programme as well as certificate programmes in Food and Nutrition, Tourism Studies, Functional English and Business Skills.
The Preparatory Programme will impart learning in the fundamentals of Social Science, Mathematics and Commerce, after the completion which, the inmates can go for a full-fledged BA or a BCom degree.
“The proposal for starting the special study centre has already been prepared. We will submit it to the Vice-Chancellor (of IGNOU) soon. After consulting an expert committee, he will approve the matter. The prison authorities concerned have more than welcomed the move and we are looking forward to start the centre in two months,” said Dr M S Parthasarathy, Director, Bangalore regional centre, IGNOU.
At present, there are 3,500 to 4,000 convicts in the central prison, out of which 1,500 to 2,000 prisoners are serving sentences of above seven years, according to K V Gagandeep, Additional Director General of Police (Prisons).
“There is definitely a lot of interest among the inmates, especially for degree courses. They have a lot of free time and they feel that a better way to spend it would be to study, so that they get jobs when they come out,” he said.
“A number of other vocational and computer courses have also been started,” Gagandeep added. The Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) is also offering a number of courses to prisoners.
As many as 18 prison inmates have already shown keen interest to enrol and pursue paralegal courses during the July admissions, according to P M Soujanya, Assistant Director, Bangalore regional centre, IGNOU. Last year, Sudhakar Rama Poojary, 29, a convict in the central prison, achieved the distinction of being the only inmate in 10 years from Bangalore Central Prison to complete a degree from IGNOU. Sudhakar has completed his first year in MA, Public Administration and has inspired a number of others to take up studying, according to Gagandeep.
According to Parthasarathy, a number of measures laying emphasis on providing education to prisoners have been taken in the past few years that will greatly help the cause.
“The university fee for the prospectus, exams and course has been waived by the Ministry of Human Resources Development. As many as 49 centres have been started all over the country. In January this year, a meeting of IGNOU was held to prepare a roadmap to promote such education for prisoners all over the country,” he said.
There are plans to start a similar centre at the Central Prison in Belgaum, according to Parthasarathy.