India opens schools for grannies

Tuesday 07 March 2017 2 months ago 23   India    Print

Indian grannies at school

Report  Web desk : PHANGANE: They wear uniforms, carry satchels and eagerly recite the alphabet in class, but the students here are different -- this is a "school for grannies". Deprived of an education as children, the women -- most of whom are widows and aged between 60 and 90 -- are finally fulfilling a life-long dream to become literate through this unique initiative near Mumbai. "I never went to school as a child. It feels great to come now and study with my friends. We have so much fun," 62-year-old Gulab Kedar tells, beaming with pleasure. She along with the rest of the class wear matching pink saris. The school, which marks its first anniversary on International Women´s Day on Wednesday, is challenging traditional attitudes common to many Indian villages and helping its women shed the stigma of illiteracy. Every day, 29 pupils take the short walk from their homes in Phangane village, in the Thane district of Maharashtra, to Aajibaichi Shala, meaning "school for grannies" in the local Marathi language. Grandchildren wave them off, or sometimes accompany them, not that this group need to be cajoled into going. They proudly carry matching satchels each containing a slate, a piece of chalk and a textbook. From 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm they sit cross-legged on the floor of the small outdoor classroom, which is made from bamboo, its roof thatched with hay. Under the guidance of 30-year-old teacher Sheetal More they read simple text and carefully practice writing their names on their slates -- two things none of them could do 12 months ago. They also learn basic arithmetic. 02