Remembering India’s first female teacher on her 191st birthday – Savithri bai Phule

Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule was born on 3 January 1831 in Satara district which is in Maharashtra. She was the first female teacher in India.

Savitribai Phule was born on 3 January 1831 in Satara district which is in Maharashtra. She was the first female teacher in India. Jyotiba Phule, who was her husband, played a vital role in Savitribai’s journey of becoming a teacher. They both played a very important role in improving women’s rights in India.

In today’s world, everyone has an equal right to educate girls and anyone of any age can get an education but this was not the condition in the past. Schools were present, education was also given but it was only limited to boys. Girls were not allowed to get an education and were supposed to be at home only doing household work. In such a situation let’s see how Savitribai Phule and Jyotiba Phule made a change.

Savitribai Phule was illiterate at the time of marriage but Jyotiba took initiative and educated Savitribai Phule. Due to her husband’s support, she got enough training. She became capable of becoming a teacher and that too the first female teacher in India. Savitribai started teaching classes to girls at Mahar Wada in Pune. After some time, they opened the first school at Bhide Wada. In the year 1851, three schools were run in Pune, especially for girls.

They were finally successful in opening schools in the year 1848 for girls but was that too easy? No. Even when Jyotiba started teaching Savitri how to read and write, other people found it useless and everyone criticized him. When Savitribai used to go for teaching in schools, she used to carry one more saree because some people used to throw stones and cow dung at her. But she did not give up. Slowly women started coming to school. Throughout their life, they found 18 schools.

Untouchability was another social crime in those days. Lower caste people were considered impure and they were not allowed to get water from public sources. The couple wanted equality between men and women. They worked hard to stop this discrimination. In the year 1853, they established a home for the prevention of infanticide, that too in their own house as they wanted to give safety to pregnant women and widows. They founded “Satyashodhak Samaj”, meaning Society for truth speaking where they practiced marriages without a dowry. They supported widow remarriage but not child marriages. The couple had no children of their own but they adopted Yashwant who was a  Brahman child. Savitribai Phule was also the author and poet. In the year 1854, she published Kavya Phule and Bhavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar 1852. She used this medium to spread awareness among the people.

Throughout the journey they did not give up they continued to struggle. When Jyoti Rao passed away Savithri continued to do her work. During the third pandemic of the bubonic plague, in the year 1897, Savitribai opened a clinic too. While taking care of them she caught the plague and died on 10 March 1897. She died a heroic death. She has given a lot to us. She is truly an inspiration for all of us.

Written By-

Pranali Mahindrakar, Student of BSc. CS, Pune.

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