Certified course in english for Thane jail's female inmates

It’s not all black and spirit-breaking labour for prisoners. Besides education, Thane jail now offers a chance for inmates to pick up a skill so that they can earn a livelihood once released.

Certified course in english for Thane jail's female inmates

For two hours every afternoon, 20 women inmates of Thane prison are transported to another world, where they converse in English and strut around confidently. Once released, these women are being groomed to improve their chances of finding jobs in the customer service sector. This is the first time a certified course in spoken English has been introduced for women in prisons in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. It will run for two months and the inmates will be assessed at the end of the programme before a certificate is issued to them.

The course in spoken English began on March 1, 2019 for women undertrials. Inmates who have studied up to Class VIII and have a basic knowledge of the English language have been identified for the programme,” said superintendent Nitin Vayachal of Thane prison, which has 65 women inmates as stated in Times of India.

The course has been developed by the British Council for Teach India, a corporate social responsibility initiative of the Times Group. The assignments in the curriculum are based on examples from sectors such as retail, insurance and finance, hospitality, tourism, etc, ensuring they are industry-relevant. It is a fun learning course with group activities and not something where there are notes to be taken, questions to be solved or tons of homework to be done. The teacher acts as a facilitator rather than a dispenser of knowledge.

As the learners are undertrials, it was necessary to ensure the course wasn’t too long as there’s always a possibility of the inmates being released or transferred to another prison. Social workers from ‘Prayas’, a field project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences are coordinating with the prison for the programme.

After strengthening core spoken English, the learners will be trained in using English in customer service scenarios. An instructor said that they will use demo videos to teach them how to greet customers, shake hands, ask if they need something, thank them, etc. Soft skills on how to face an interviewer, how to dress or sit during an interview will be imparted once the modules are completed,The women have largely come from a background where nobody has encouraged them to learn; they may have taken wrong decisions or landed in the wrong company and got into a situation where they got arrested.

When they go through the spoken English programme, they find a completely different environment from what they are used to. Here, the instructor won’t shout if they get something wrong, they would be applauded on reaching a new milestone and encouraged to do well. It would make a huge difference to their confidence at the end of two months.

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