Many men and women are self-made and many are even late bloomers – beginning their learning and careers at a much later phase in life than the rest. Examples pop ones mind – from Colonel Sanders who started KFC at 65 and went on to become a multi millionaire, J K rowling who published Harry potter series at 45 or Mr Fauja Singh who started running marathons at the ripe old age of 90. Age could not defy the beauty of learning and achieving for such seekers.
Kantabai More and Sitabai Deshmukh would attest to this, as living and learning examples.
In the heart of a village called Phangane, in Thane district of Mumbai, India you will find nursery rhymes, prayers, and the Marathi alphabet being chanted by young students in pink uniforms. The uniqueness of this school is in the fact that these young students are aged anywhere between 60 to 90. School bags, black slates, and white chalk have brought independence to many mother-in-laws and grandmothers.
Kantabai declared, “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.”
Aajibaichi Shala is a school for almost 30 grannies and it was founded on International Womens’ Day (8 March), 2016 by Yogendra Bangar, a 45-year-old teacher at the Fangane Zila Parishad Primary school, in a collaboration with Dilip Dalal, the founder of Motilal Dalal Charitable Trust. It is the first of it’s kind in India.
“We started this school to bring happiness to their lives and make the village 100% literate,” Bangar stated. A lot of importance is given to environmental awareness and vocational skills. Basic Abacus mathematics is also taught here.
Daughter-in-laws, like Sheetal More, bond closely with their mother-in-laws as they now play the role of teachers in this academy. The society has been quite appreciative of this initiative and recognizes this as an essential contribution.
They are glad that they needn’t use thumb impressions and are glad about the new avenues opening for them in a world of letters and numbers.
Check out other stories about the Grandma school:
Grandmas go to school in this hamlet: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/grandmas-go-to-school-in-this-hamlet/article17330290.ece
This school in Thane provides education to grandmothers, oldest student aged 90: https://yourstory.com/2017/01/school-in-thane-provides-education-to-grandmothers/
It’s school time for grannies in India: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7wzDxPQHGU
Inside India’s Only School For Grannies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ2tawjyp48