Prison in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has been teaching Putonghua to inmates and helping them escape illiteracy.
Prisoners under the age of 45 are encouraged to receive education in literacy and math in both Putonghua and Tibetan languages for three hours every day, and Tibetan prisoners under the age of 35 are required to learn Putonghua, according to a statement the region's Department of Justice sent to the Global Times Thursday.
A prisoner surnamed Mao said after receiving literacy certificate on July 20 that he was illiterate before being locked in the prison, but he is able to write letters to his families and communicate in Putonghua after attending classes organized by the prison, according to the statement.
The region's prison has also organized classes in calligraphy, painting, music, computer skills, English and driving, and distributed 430 textbooks on primary school education to prisoners, according to the department.
The prison also encourages prisoners to apply for universities. More than 100 prisoners applied for adult higher education examinations this April.
The Tibet prison also offers Tibetan language training every year for ethnic Han police officers, said the statement.
The Tibetan prison's move came after a notice issued jointly by the region's education and justice department this year, which ordered the inclusion of prisoners' cultural education into the region's national education plan.
Xiong Kunxin, a professor on ethnic studies at Minzu University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that study is a reform touching on a prisoners' soul, which could help prisoners better understand the country's laws and reflect on their criminal activities.
"Acquiring Putonghua helps minority prisoners blend into mainstream culture through accessing advanced science and cultural knowledge, and their sense of national identity would be reinforced through communicating with other ethnic groups," Xiong said.
There are no regulations on the languages prisoners must use during visiting hours, said the department.
The prison will arrange for Tibetan police for prisoners who cannot speak Putonghua during visiting hours, according to the region's Department of Justice.