After Kolkata, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is all set to launch an educational programme for sex workers and their children in Gujarat.

“Deliberations are on... We are gearing up to launch the programme in July. The idea is to bring them into the mainstream so that with the help of education they can establish their capacity building,” IGNOU Regional Director Dr Sujit K. Ghosh said.

“In a conventional system, it is difficult for them (sex workers) to seek education, and find an institute of repute to count on for career making,” he said.

“We are in the process of identifying a suitable centre for learning for the programme... it is yet to be finalised,” Ghosh said.

In 2008, IGNOU had first launched this educational programme in Kolkata, where over 300 sex workers and their children had got enrolled, and have benefited.

The programme enables the students to gain eligibility for the degree programme in university. Being a marginalised lot, sex workers in the country have very few rights.

The programme is significant in Gujarat, as the women of Sarania community (a denotified tribe), in Vadia village of Gujarat, have been into prostitution as a ‘tradition’ for years now. The Sarania community originally hails from Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, IGNOU, which is offering bachelors and degree programmes to the jail inmates in Gujarat, is planning to start a Ph.D programme for them.

“We have enrolled over 1,300 inmates in all the jails of Gujarat. We offer them bachelors and masters programme and are now considering to enrol them for Ph.D programmes also,” Ghosh said.

(This article was published on February 11, 2013)
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