Teachers and officials of prison schools call for better study environment in jails

2019-07-16

The Kathmandu Post


A prison is not quite a convenient place for study. And almost all the prisons in Nepal are overcrowded, lack basic amenities like clean drinking water, sanitation, food and health care services. The Central Jail is no exception.

But still, at least 13 people doing time in the Sundhara prison managed to cope with the difficulties and take out ample time for study. All 13 who sat for the Secondary Education Examination held in May have passed with good grades.

According to the Central Jail administration, the 13 prisoners have scored A+, A, B+ and B in the exam. “They worked hard in the prison school,” said Bed Nidhi Adhikari, jailer at the Central Jail. The Central Jail is divided into three jails: Central Jail, Bhadra Jail and Women Jail. All three have their own schools which are attended by around 500 students.

The Central Prison’s school, Jagannath Higher Secondary School, imparts education from first grade to twelfth grade, while Bhadra Jail school, Bandi Bikas Adharbhut Bidhyalaya runs classes from first grade to eighth grade. The Women Jail school, Mahila Bandi Bikas Adharbhut Bidhyalay, runs classes for first to fifth graders. 

All three jails, which can accommodate a maximum of 1,500 prisoners, have 2,970 inmates in total. “Those who attend classes sleep in school rooms due to lack of space,” said Kul Prasad Regmi, an account official at the jail.

The teachers at these schools are also those who are serving sentences for various crimes. According to Abhishek Kumar Tiwari, principal of the Jagannath Higher Secondary School, there are 300 students from 18 to 60 years of age. “It’s definitely tough in the jail,” said Tiwari, who has been doing time for a decade. “A lot of prisoners want to pursue higher studies, but the environment is not encouraging.”

At least 60 inmates are doing their Plus Two in the Jagannath Higher Secondary School. Some prisoners are pursuing their Bachelor’s and Master’s from the jail. 

The Kathmandu District Education Office provides books to the students of prison schools and the jail administration provides stationery for those who cannot afford them. “After all, prisoners are also citizens of the country,” said Parajuli. “It would have been good if the government provided some additional support to those who want to study.” Parajuli also expressed concern about those students who want to pursue higher studies. Under the semester system, students must attend classes, but those in jail cannot do so. 

Teachers and officials at the jail said if prisons were to be converted into correctional centres, authorities should ensure the environment for those inmates who want to study. "We also want inmates to get an education and do better in the society after their prison term,” said Jailer Adhikari. “We would like to help those who want to pursue studies.”