Inmates in Indian jails will benefit from this initiative
10 October 2007
Asia Youth Programme offers inmates a chance to learn ICT
Young offenders at a Chandigarh prison in India are the latest beneficiaries of a pioneering mobile information and communication technology (ICT) project launched by the Commonwealth Youth Programme’s Asia Centre.
‘CYPTEC on Wheels’ (a Commonwealth Youth Programme Technology Empowerment Centre initiative) is a modified van kitted out with computer systems, generators, mobile internet and public address systems. Young people who would otherwise not have access to computers can gain quality ICT skills as part of the Commonwealth’s commitment to bridging the digital divide.
The flagship project was first launched in Chandigarh in 2003 and was designed to reach young people in rural villages, which do not have ICT infrastructure or even electricity. The van is also used to raise public awareness on social issues such as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, dowries and girl-child education.
In September 2007, 46 young jail inmates and prison officers at Chandigarh Model Jail completed a one-month basic computer training course, made possible through the collaboration of CYP Asia Centre, prison authorities and a local non-governmental organisation called ‘Noor’ working for the rehabilitation and reform of young offenders.
Manjeet, a young offender who has already served three years, expressed how much the course had meant to him: “I could never dream of getting computer literacy -- even outside jail. But now, it has been made a reality.”
The Inspector-General of Prisons, Dinesh Bhatt, explained that Chandigarh Model Jail was keen to pioneer many innovative projects. “CYPTEC on Wheels presented a golden opportunity to prepare these young inmates for a meaningful life out of jail,” he said.
To date, more than 3,000 young people from schools in rural and urban slums have benefited. This was the first time CYPTEC on Wheels has been used in a prison.
Regional Director of the CYP Asia Centre, Raj Mishra, described how the project had also reached young people beyond the state of Chandigarh: “CYPTEC on Wheels is a highly innovative project -- working in Maharashtra (another state of India) through satellite communication educating rural youth who otherwise had no access to education, and across the border in Pakistan empowering slum children with ICT knowledge and preparing them for meaningful employment in the future.”
CYPTEC on Wheels will soon be launched in Bangladesh, with the CYP Asia Centre providing technical assistance in the implementation of the project. International development organisations have also been approached to provide resources, and discussions with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of India are currently taking place.