Published: 28th March 2018
Education 101: Coimbatore Central Prison's smart classrooms are giving inmates a second chance at literacy
The prison's earlier use of the routine blackboard teaching method failed to yield more than 40 convicts, a figure that changed with the use of the smart classrooms
At a time when the school education department is gearing up to set up smart classrooms in Government schools, Coimbatore Central Prison is far ahead, setting up a new smart classroom in the prison premises pushing 120 convicted prisoners to enrol in basic education classes.
As most convicts enter the prison as illiterates, the prison department has been imparting basic education from the alphabets to numerals. Until a month ago the blackboard method was used, but discarded when it failed to interest a good chunk of the prison population. In the month of February, after the prison department managed to set up smart classrooms with the projector and speakers, the number of convicts attending the basic education swelled to 120.
The inmates are also eager to attend classes with having a better ability to grasp more with smart classes. Though notorious individuals until conviction, prison teacher K Sakthivel said he has been treated as a any other teacher in elementary schools and was respected by the convicts.
Apart from convicted prisoners, undertrial prisoners in the sub-jail and the 'wall made' jail block are also given basic education in the newly set up smart classroom. "As the sub-jail has first-time offenders and the wall made jail has the habitual offenders, classes are taken at different places and times in order to ensure a distance between the two groups," a source in Coimbatore Prison said.
Among the 700 under trial prisoners, 400 under trail prisoners attend the basic education classes regularly, sources added. Apart from the basic education, the Prison Teachers also teach them Thirukkural and Aathichudi by playing videos. "The meaning of each Thirukural will be explained in the video, citing an example to a graphical story. Similarly, a video in which Aathichudi will be displayed and the corresponding audio will also be played, to make them understand better," the official source said.
Prison officials said that these would be models of prisoner's reformation as these moral values reach even out of the prison, as under trial prisoners taught with the moral classes. Though an illiterate convict needs a minimum of two years basic education to attempt the class VIII examination, with the smart class, the prison department aims to prepare all 120 convicts to appear for the class VIII examination the very next year.
The prison department is educating the inmates and is making them appear for the standard VIII, X and XII board exams, after which the inmates pursue their undergraduate and postgraduate courses within the premises. According to the norms of the education department, a convict can write their Standard VIII exam if the candidate is 12-years-old or with a certificate from the prison department.