A school with a difference
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar,April 23

A unique school is running inside the high security Central Jail here, where Pakistani, Bangladeshi and other foreign nationals are lodged. Lifers and undertrials, including women and children, are receiving "formal education" from primary to postgraduate level.

"Teachers", who have been convicted or facing trial, have been designated as "principal" or "vice-principal". Educational activities are looked after with the help of government resources as well as NGOs.

Computer training centres would be set up by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, for imparting education to the prisoners shortly.

Library with the support of NGOs has also been created. The most important aspect of the education system in the jail is that educated prisoners voluntarily teach less educated prisoners.

A visit to the jail created an impression of a big school where young and old were receiving education in various classes. For disciplining mind, yoga and meditation classes have also been started in a big way with the help of various voluntary organisations.

Spelling out the literacy mission inside the jail, the SSP (Jail), Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, said it aimed at the eradication of illiteracy by imparting them literacy functional knowledge and skills and also creating awareness among learners about the socio-economic reality.

However, the programme has been tailored to the needs and unique capabilities of the learner. The room of Dr Ranjit Singh Uppal, "principal", Literacy Mission, who has been undergoing imprisonment in connection with the dowry case, had passed his M.Sc (Hons) horticulture from Khalsa College, Amritsar, with 78 per cent.

He worked as a part-time lecturer in Paramedical Institutes from 1998 to 2003. He was also Director-cum-Principal of PTU Paramedical College, Amritsar, and editor of a quarterly Punjab magazine.

The "vice-principal" is Mr Gurinder Singh Randhawa, who was arrested in connection with a dowry case, is MA in Hindi and history and had vast experience of teaching. Another teacher, also a convict, has been designated as head of the computer department.

He had a stint as lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Guru Nanak Dev University. Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, SSP (Jails), said from the social point of view it was moral responsibility of the jail authorities to enable them to catch up with the rest of society.

Therefore, it was endeavour of the authorities to make them eligible to command respect in society after release from the jail.


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