HYDERABAD: In the next three or four months when she walks out of the Chanchalguda central prison for Women, Thailand-national Kornwipha Pinkaeo says she will have something to bank her future on — a Bachelors of Arts Degree from the Dr BR Ambedkar Open University. Pinkaeo, convicted for drug peddling and serving a life sentence, is one among 106 prisoners, and the only woman, to be conferred degree by the Open University on its campus on Friday.
Every year a number of inmates from the Central Jails of Cherlapalli, Rajahmundry, Warangal and Kadapa obtain their degrees from BRAOU. “I am very happy that I am a graduate now. Next time when I have a video call with my mother I will show her the certificate and she will be happy,” she said and added that it will help her in setting up a restaurant back home in Thailand. The 44-year-old who spent a decade of her prime years behind the bars, says she has learnt to cook Indian dishes, baking biscuits, cakes and puffs and sewing.
“Last month I made Rs 2,000 by stitching petticoats,” she said and rued that though tailoring pays more, the orders are few are far in between. So catering and kitchen work is the only option women inmates have. Hesitatingly she adds, “We are also not paid as much as the men. They get Rs 1,500 per month but for us, it’s Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 once in six months.” Sitting across from Pinkaeo and her four women constables, are a group of 15 men prisoners, flanked by their escorts, waiting to get their degrees.
For Sunkam Raju, a native of Nizamabad, it is a proud moment. “ it is a great opportunity that despite being in jail we are got to study,” said the 26-year-old prisoner. Raju, worked in a restaurant and was just 19 when he was held for a murder in which his friends used his mobile phone. In the last seven year that he has been in Jail, he has been helping the psychologist with counselling of other inmates a majority of whom are battling depression. “Though I like history, I think I will do PG in Psychology,” he says.
Unlike Pinkaeo and Raju, Amos Tamang, who is serving a life sentence, the BA degree is not a great news to him. The hotel management student from the city had to leave his degree midway in 2013 when he was convicted of a murder committed in 2010. “I had to leave studies after coming here. With nothing else to do, I thought I would get a degree in the meantime,” he said.
BRAOU conducted its 22nd convocation on its campus at Jubilee HiIls here on April 20. As many as 34,387 candidates received their degrees, diplomas, certificates along with gold medals and book prizes. Nearly 51 per cent of the students were women. Overall, 34 students were awarded 36 gold medals and four book prizes. Prof NV Varghese, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) (Deemed University), New Delhi, deliver the convocation address .