These prisoners are confident of walking out of the jail as graduates. With the study centre of Karnataka State Open University set up on the Central Prisons, Mysore, premises, some of the inmates have chosen to make the best use of it.
Selecting courses among the BA, BCom, MA and other certificate courses, they not only intend to gain knowledge, but they also want to boost their self-confidence to face the society later.
Though their ambitions vary slightly from that of other college going students, they want to acquire knowledge, enough to lead a dignified life. The prison is now abuzz with studying activities for the exams, as the bachelor degree exams are on. Exams of master degree will begin in the first week of June.
The students of KSOU in the prison are between the age group of 28 to 42. Along with their routine jobs assigned to them in the jail, they have decided to educate themselves, which they feel is necessary when they are released.
There are instances of the convicts and under trials pursuing education from inside the jail even before the establishment of the study centre. In 2010, KSOU opened a study centre within the premises of the prison (which is a first in the country).
The then vice-chancellor K S Rangappa led the initiative to empower the jailbirds with education. The fee was borne by the Prisons department. Most students are serving lifetime imprisonment and have completed eight to 12 years of their time behind the bars.
Political Science has been a favourite among those opting for higher education. As many as four members have chosen to pursue MA in the subject after having completed BA in History, Political Science and Sociology (HPS) from KSOU itself.
As many as 42 students have opted for BA and BCom, and two for certificate courses. A few inmates are even aiming for a PhD after their masters.
Satish Gowda, 30, who is pursuing his MA said that he wanted to do a PhD next. So does K S Delux. The 33 year old, another MA student, said that he was for a PhD in Mass Communication.
Nanjundaswamy, 39, a BA student said that he would enter politics once he is released from the prison. Ravi Kumar, 40, admitted that he was serving jail term because he never bothered to get an education.
Anburaj, 34, who is pursuing a certificate course in Panchayat Raj, is a mechanic by profession. “Though there is no relation between the subject I have chosen, and what I used to do, I know that the subject will help me understand the system better.” His wife Revathi, who is also an inmate has opted for a certificate course in Stree Shakti Sabalikarana.
P N Jayasimha, Chief Superintendent of prison, says that the government was spending around Rs two to three lakh per year for the education of the prisoners.
“They are not just inmates, they are the assets of our prison. Their knowledge comes in handy in dealing with works related to computers, electrical and mechanical, once the regular staff leave the prison for the day,” he added.
M G Krishnan, Vice-Chancellor, KSOU, said that prisoners don’t stand a chance to be reformed, if they are not involved creatively. “If a person is punished, he should improve and reform. Education is very much helpful in this regard. Just because they are in jail, they should not be deprived of education.”
B Chowde Gowda, co-ordinator, KSOU Study Centre, Central Prisons, Mysore, says that the numbers of inmates opting for higher education was increasing every year. The certificated would help them get a job outside, once they finished serving their term in the prison.