This is a story of a 96-year-old woman, Karthiyani Amma who has become a perfect demonstration of how age is just a number and that number has nothing to do with education, literally.
Kerala’s State Literacy Mission conducted a literacy examination in which 43,330 people appeared. One of them was Amma, the oldest student to appear for the exam and also the one who cleared the test by scoring 98 out of 100 marks under the state ‘Aksharalaksham’ literacy program. In this exam, the reading, writing, and mathematical skills of the students were tested and assessed.
She has received direct admittance into the 4th grade of the Literacy Mission’s equivalency program after passing the Aksharalaksham exam. After completing the 6-month 4th-grade course, she will be able to enroll in the 7th-grade equivalency program and, eventually, the 10th-grade course, according to Mission officials.
Amma is a mother of six children but unfortunately, out of which only two are still alive. She has six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and even then, she also has a dream of pursuing and completing her education.
As a child, she grew up amidst financial constraints and got deprived of the opportunity to study. Amma expressed that if she would have gotten a chance to study, she would have wanted to become a government official.
In order to support her family after her husband’s tragic demise, Amma started doing errands like cleaning a temple.
Mission’s instructor, Sathi informed that as a student, Amma is a very curious and open person. She was very keen on attending all the classes and always used to ask numerous questions to clear her queries. He also said that even at the time of giving her first-ever exam, Amma remained calm and cool and gave the exam with confidence.
The ‘Aksharalaksham’ literacy campaign was created with the goal of eliminating illiteracy in the state, which has the highest literacy rate in the country at over 90%. Kerala has proclaimed a completely literate state on April 18, 1991, achieving 90% literacy according to UNESCO standards.
The 2011 Census, however, reported that over 18 lakh individuals remained illiterate, prompting the state government to initiate the “Aksharalaksham” program on January 26 of this year.
42,993 people out of the 43,330 candidates who appeared for the test cleared it this year. In addition to this, 80 inmates from various jails took the exam, and also taken by a total of 2,420 members of the scheduled caste community and 946 members of the scheduled tribe community.