A school in Thane city of India’s western Maharashtra state is giving the illiterate elderly women an opportunity to get formal education and live with dignity.
Dressed in pink sarees, a group of 28 elderly women – aged 55 to 90 – sit together in a makeshift classroom of ‘Aajibaichi Shala’ or grannies’ school.
Co-founded by Motiram Dalal Charitable Trust, a local charitable trust, and a district council teacher and activist, the school is helping these women learn to read, write and do math.
Over the years, India has made great strides in education. However, in old times parents did not see education as necessary for their daughters because she was going to get married or stay at home to do housework.
A teacher at ‘Aajibaichi Shala’, Sheetal Moore, recalled how her ‘students’ couldn’t stop laughing when they first held their books.
“When our school started these grandmothers did not know anything. They used to laugh like young children thinking they are studying at this age. They used to laugh after seeing books. They wondered if they will be able to even see these small letters. But we write the letters in bold font on the board. So now they study well. Now they can even write their names,” said Moore on Sunday (February 05).
As the school starts at 2 pm (0830 GMT), the grandchildren of the elderly women often show up to help their grannies practice reading and writing. Back at home too the children help their grannies do their homework.
The grannies have graduated from writing letters to writing their names.
“Earlier I used my thumb for my signature,” said a student, Kamla Bai. “Now I can sign on paper,” she added.
The school, started in March 2016, has shifted to a new, larger space this year. The authorities hope more grandmothers to join.