“Age is no bar” when it comes to the pursuit of education, and a 96-year-old woman from Kerala just proved it right. Karthyayani Amma from the state’s Alappuzha district is among the 40,363 other people who took Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority’s Aksharalaksham literacy examination on Sunday, August 5. It was the first exam of her life and Karthyayani Amma aced her reading test with full marks.
Karthyayani was the oldest student in the examination hall in Cheppad’s Kanichenellur government Lower Primary School in Alappuzha, but that did not wobble her confidence even a bit. “She was the oldest in the examination hall. The exam had three sections — 30 marks for reading, 40 for written Malayalam and 30 marks for maths. Amma scored full marks, 30 on 30, in the reading section,” told her teacher-coordinator, Sathi to The News Minute.
The result of the written exam is not yet announced. However, Karthyayini seems to be satisfied with her exams. “She was unhappy that the question paper did not ask everything she studied. She feels she studied too much for no reason,” said teacher-coordinator. This exam was for her entry into fourth grade. But, this is not it, she is determined to study till class 10 under the state government’s literacy drive which is aimed at achieving 100% literacy.
How did she get into the literacy programme?
In January of 2018, a literacy crew of Cheppad grama panchayat along with its secretary went to Laksham Veedu Colony, a government housing for the elderly. While most women housed at Laksham Veedu Colony shied away to avoid the literacy drive, Karthyayani Amma was the one who came forward in a bid to enrol herself.
Interestingly, Karthyayini’s zeal to pursue education started a couple of years before this when she saw her 60-year-old daughter, Ammini Amma pass the literacy mission’s course, which is equivalent to the class 10 level in formal educational courses. Karthyayani Amma has been learning Mathematics and Malayalam for the last six years to take this exam. According to Sathi, for now, the 96-year-old is relaxed as her exams are over. She is now trying to learn English through a book that was given to her by a Malayalam channel. Karthyayani says she wants to practice her English before standard four begins.
When in January this year, Karthyayani Amma got herself enrolled in the Karthyayini Amma enrolled with the Literacy Mission, as many as 30 elderly residents of the colony also enrolled themselves for the course.
Even though Karthyayani’s father was a tutor, she and her sister gave up on education when she was only 12 to work at nearby temples. Little did she know that decades later, she would end up completing what she had started.
According to the survey held as part of Aksharalaksham in 2010, it was found that there are 47,241 illiterates in the state. Out of these, 46,349 started attending classes on January 26, and 40,363 reportedly appeared for the Sunday’s examination, reported The Hindu.
The survey had also found the maximum number of illiterates in Palakkad district, at 10,348, and the least in Pathanamthitta, at 434. The second phase of Aksharalaksham will be implemented in one local self-government institution in each district.
The Logical Indian Take
Karthyayani Amma’s story only reinforces the fact that nothing can pose an obstacle if one is determined to attain a goal. Her enthusiasm even inspired many elderly residents of her colony to follow in her footsteps. Also, the role of Kerala government and the grassroots literacy crews should be appreciated. Their programme is giving wings to the dreams of many people who for various circumstances could not pursue education.