A School For Grannies In A Maharashtra Village
It’s never too late to study more and these grannies are proving it in style! Wearing their uniform of bright pink saris, the grandmothers of a village in Thane district in Maharashtra go to Aajibaichi Shala School to learn ABCs every day. They get basic education there and are currently focused on learning to read in Marathi.
As soon as they walk in to the classroom, the grannies become students and devote themselves to acquiring knowledge of different subjects – to do what they couldn’t when they were children.
It’s been just a year since the school was inaugurated on March 8, 2016, Women’s Day and now it consists of 27 grannies between 60 and 90 years. But the real good news is that this year on Republic Day, these grannies got motivated than ever before as their small classroom became huge and moved to a new venue with bigger space and a garden.
It’s been decades since these women devoted their lives to thinking about their family and taking care of household chores. Getting an education became a secondary matter. But years later when they finally got the opportunity to be educated, there’s no stopping them.
Consider Sitabai Deshmukh’s case. She is 90 years old and the oldest student of her school. She might have weaker bones, but is as spirited as never before. She holds her youngest granddaughter Anushka’s hand and heads to the class. “Never in my long life had I thought I would get a chance to go to a school,” Sitabai says, Hindustan Times reported. “When I was young, my family was poor and girls didn’t have the chance to go to schools. I have had a new life for the last year.”
Not only does she take help from her grandchildren to walk to her school, but also gets advice from them about homework. “We have fun studying together,” Anushka says.
They all were present on Republic Day, Thursday at the new school ground with the happy grannies, paid respect to the flag and later joined local kids at the venue and sang the national anthem together.
“I feel proud watching the grandmothers taking part in such an occasion, that too as students,” says Dilip Dalal, founder of Motiram Dalal Charitable Trust, which with the help of local zilla parishad teacher and activist, Yogendra Bangar co-founded the school.
“I started this school after one of the grandmothers said to me that she wished she could read at least the holy books. That’s when I felt the need to do this,” says Bangar.
Bangar is the sole supplier of the utilities for the school.
“I do not accept donations. It doesn’t cost much and I feel this is my baby and I should be one looking after it,” he says. “Also, I’m a teacher and this is my duty.”
Shital More (30), who is a Class 10 passout, moved to Phangane after marriage and teaches the grannies at the one-room school.
“A year ago, when Bangar Sir asked me to teach the grandmothers, I was very happy,” she says.
“I teach them how to sign their names, read in Marathi and multiply,” she added. “They are obedient and eager students,” More says. “My mother-in-law attends the school and my husband, Prakash More, has donated land for the new venue, so this school is very much close to my heart.”
Well, that’s not all! The grannies like gardening too. Kantabai More (65) said, “Now that all of us old ladies are in the same class, we have a lot of fun gardening,” she says while holding up a sign to spread the word of taking care of trees. “We also go on day trips. Dilipji has promised us a picnic that we are all looking forward to.”
What started with a single-room school is already in expansion mode. The trusties are in search of more students from the neighbourhood to join the school.
WATCH Them Learn Here:
Let us all salute these grannies for their courage!!
Feature Image Credit: NDTV Sports
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