Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has taken yet another initiative to ensure the higher education reaches out to cross section of society. In a noble move, IGNOU has taken to the choked bylanes of Ganga Jamuna, Nagpur’s red light area to enroll the commercial sex workers for their various academic programmes. Recently, IGNOU has reached out to jail inmates and picked up few candidates for imparting education to them.
Now the Nagpur Regional Centre of IGNOU has collaborated with the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) in providing educational opportunity to Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs). The Indian Red Cross which has been working with CSWs by providing them counselling on health related issues joined hands with IGNOU to first conduct an awareness camp for the CSWs on Teachers’ Day last year.
With this joint effort, for the first time nine CSWs took admission for the January 2015 session in the Bachelors Preparatory Program (BPP) of IGNOU in September.
BPP is a non formal stream of entry to graduation. Anyone with 18 years age can take admission into this program by submitting age proof.
These unfortunate women submitted their Aadhar Card as age proof, as they did not have any other documents with them, said Dr P Sivaswaroop, Regional Director of IGNOU Nagpur, who counselled them to enrol for higher studies in their leisure time.
If they are educated, they can teach their children also and may get employed elsewhere. Also, they can act as role models for their fraternity to take up education, he said.
He also mentioned how other disadvantaged sections of the society like prisoners and Gadchiroli tribal women are pursuing studies through IGNOU.
Hemlata Pandey Lohave, Co-ordinator, IRCS, who also motivated these sections to study, told that the new entrants were enthusiastic about studies. She is a regular visitor to the area and supervises distribution of condoms to CSWs. The nine CSWs belong to Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra, she said.