“Ka se court, Ch se chaku, Ga se ganja....” These might not be the words typically used in Hindi classrooms. But they are part of a special curriculum designed by social enterprise Second Chance to grab the attention of young inmates of jail number 5 in Delhi’s Tihar gaol.
“About 17 per cent of the people in the prison are first-generation learners, so we use terminology with which they are familiar. In the second stage we ensure that they learn ‘ Ka se kalam, Ga se gamla...’ Our aim is to reduce the rate of recidivism,” said Eleena George, founder of Second Chance. Recidivism is the tendency of a convicted criminal to relapse into a life of crime.
Included in the learning kit is a book that touches upon issues such as dowry, theft, the importance of consent and actions covered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) legislation.
“We first want to focus on behavioural changes such as self-discipline, punctuality and consent. Where we are working in Tihar, the majority of the students are on trial under sexual harassment cases,” said George.
The ‘stories’ incorporated in the books are mostly those shared by the inmates themselves in the class or outside it, and these are adapted in a manner that keeps the identity of the students secret.
The idea is to come up with stories that sound real to the students while addressing their queries in the classroom.
Second Chance also offers a 30-chapter curriculum kit that covers math, English, Hindi and life skills. “The aim is to prepare these kids for open exams for standards 10 and 12,” George added.
Currently, the inmates taking up these classes are aged 18-21 years. The long-term plan is to extend the bracket to 18-35 years. “In the days to come, these kits will be sold to prisons, juvenile homes, State governments and civil society organisations working on prison reforms,” said George.