Sixteen inmates of the Coimbatore Central Prison took up the exam and 11 of them passed, and a rescued bonded labourer scored just short of 1100.

Prison or bonded labour these TN students beat all odds to pass their Class 12 examsImage for Representation
news Education Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 14:12

The Tamil Nadu +2 State Board results were announced on May 16 and the state recorded 91.1% results overall. Here are the stories of a few people, who overcame all odds to take up the exams and come out on top.

Prison Diaries

The Coimbatore Central Prison has several reasons to celebrate. Eleven reasons to be precise. Of the sixteen students who appeared for their TN HSC +12 state board exams this March, 11 of them cleared all the papers, with S Tamilalagan securing the top spot with 1050. P Yuvaprakash came second with 995 and Nawab Khan came third with 878.

These prisoners, all of whom are above their 30s, are life convicts. Tamilalagan, who has spent over 20 years in prison now, his teacher, Shakthivel, said his passion to study was evident as he spent months and months preparing for the exams. Tamilalagan’s highest score was the 199 he got in Commerce.

Shakthivel, who has been a teacher in the Prisons Department for over 28 years, added that Tamilalagan was ecstatic to receive the news from him on Wednesday morning. “Although the prisoners get stationery from the government, Tamilalagan spent his own money to buy guides for each subject to prepare better. He did put in a lot of effort in these exams,” he says.

While it is common for prisoners to appear for the board exams, prison authorities are saying that Tamilalagan’s score of 1050 is among the highest they have seen. The fact that a total of 16 convicts appeared from Coimbatore Central Prison for the exam too has impressed authorities - last year, only 9 had chosen to write the exams.

According to Shakthivel, the prison has a good education system in place where students are first trained to take up their Class 8 exams. Once they clear these exams, they are promoted to Class 10.

“Those who cleared their 12th Board this time are very interested to take up their UG courses,” he added.

Prisoners study for five hours daily and are also allowed to take their course material inside their cells if they wish. “We also have classes on Saturdays,” said Shakthivel.

Coimbatore is the first prison in the state to have fully equipped smart classrooms. “We have animated stories for Thirukkural that are projected onto a screen. Students grasp concepts better from a visual medium,” he added.

The prison is also awaiting the result of 60 students who attended their 10th board exams and 12 students who appeared for their Class 11 exams. This year, of 101 students who wrote their 8th standard exams, 94 of them have passed all subjects.

The prison also has inmates pursuing graduate and post-graduate courses like Bachelor of Social Work, BA Tamil Literature, MBA, MA History, to name a few from Bharathiyar University and Indira Gandhi Open University.

A total of 72 candidates, including 7 women, had applied to appear for the TN State Board HSC Examination this year. Of this, 62 of them, including 4 women prisoners, cleared all papers and emerged victorious.

Free from bondage

Dharaneedharan was just 12 years old when he had to find work and provide for his family. He was pushed into bonded labour at a banian factory in Tiruppur, but was rescued three months later, after facing severe abuse in the hands of his employers.

Today, Dharaneetharan and his family have reasons to feel proud. He has scored a total of 1093 in his +2 State Board exams. While his marks have made his family very happy, Dharaneedharan said he was expecting more. “It is a little disappointing, I had expected more. I will be applying for re-evaluation in Maths and Biology,” he said.

An ambitious Dharaneetharan has also taken up the NEET exams this year. The 17-year-old beams when he shares his dream of becoming a cardiologist one day.

In Tiruppur, of the 9 rescued child labourers who attended their exams this year, 8 of them have passed in all subjects.  

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