The Tamil Nadu prison department will kick-start its 100 percent literacy programme in all the jails in the state on Repuplic Day. According to a report, at least 50% of the inmates of prisoners in the state are illiterate and another 25% in the early stage. "We will provide them with a slate and writing sticks. We expect to make all the inmates literate in another three months. We are having tie-ups with the local chief educational officer, apart from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Human Resource Development department," director general of police (DGP Prisons) R Nataraj told .
"We will maintain a record about each and every inmate undergoing the literacy course. Now, we have separate classrooms in the major prisons at Chennai, Vellore, Madurai, Palayamkottai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Salem and Cuddalore. We have instructed all prison superintendents to make available a class room in the sub-jails," Nataraj said. Prison sources said there were at least 17,300 prisoners in the state's prisons. These included more than 5,000 convicts, apart from undertrials and remand prisoners. Several prisoners, at the time of entering the jail, claim to have passed class II or class III. However, "when asked to sign the register, they fail," a prison official said. "In the programme, we are enrolling inmates based on their ability.
They will be given a few sentences in Tamil to write and read. If successful, they will be termed fit for the Valar Kalvi Scheme' the next level. Those who cannot read or write will be enrolled for the training. We have contacted HRD officials, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, apart from the chief education officers in the district level and local NGOs, who will provide teachers. The trainers will teach the inmates the basics of Tamil. They will taught to sign their names. Three months is supposed to be more than enough to bring them on track. The interested inmates will be provided with opportunities to study and pass several classes from standard I to XII.
We have a facility to conduct examinations inside the prison," the officer added. Prison officials have been asked to buy blackboards for conducting classes. The inmates enrolled for the literacy programme will be given a slate and writing sticks to learn how to write and read on their own. "This will be more suitable to start the new scheme on Republic Day and to ensure 100 percent literacy in another three months," another senior prison official said.