The grandmothers begin their day with a morning prayer. Black slates in hands, they practise writing Marathi alphabets and reciting them out aloud. They learn the fundamentals of mathematics, alphabets and nursery rhymes at the school.
The school, which began its journey last year on the International Women’s Day, is the brainchild of 45-year-old Yogendra Bangar. Mr Bangar, who travels 75 km every day from the city to the school, said he feels it is his duty to educate them. The idea came to him when he realised that elderly women in the village were illiterate and were unable to recite the mythological epics on Shivaji Jayanti. Mr Bangar claims that the initiative has helped the village achieve 100 per cent literacy.
Ms Kanta said that she was initially hesitant, but after she saw other women of her age attending the school, she too joined. “Now I can read and write in my language. I have understood the importance of education. It gives you self-esteem. Earlier, I had to put my thumb impression on bank documents, but now I can sign them myself. I don’t need anyone else’s help,” she was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Eighty-seven-year-old Ramabai is one of the oldest students of the school. Despite facing troubles with her hearing, she is determined to study. She said that she did not know the importance of going to the school as a child, but she can now read and write and feels really confident.
Education has also transformed the way the villagers look at hygiene and sanitation. The village has just become open defecation free, with each family having a toilet at home, said Mr Bangar. Another activity that engages the grandmothers is watering a sapling that’s planted in their names at the school compound. For learning, age is no bar, and these grandmothers have proved that.
(With Inputs From PTI)