Maliyekkal Mariyumma, the first Muslim woman in North Kerala to get an English education passed away at the age of 95. She passed away at her native place in Thalassery in the Kannur district on Friday.
Born in 1927, Maliyekkal Mariyumma finished her lower primary education and joined Sacred Heart Convent School in the 1930s. Mariyumma was the only Muslim student among around 200 students at the school. Her father, OV Abdullah secured admission for Mariyumma at the convent school.
Mariyumma recalled that while she did not understand English, her father consoled her and encouraged her to continue her education. The nuns at the convent school arranged a facility for her namaz after they realised that Mariyumma used to go to a relative’s house for the same. She later said that the nuns created a love for the language of English in her mind.
Her father Abdulla had only studied up to class 2 but continued to read and write in English. The religious scholar encouraged her to continue her English education.
Maliyekkal Mariyumma Education
In interviews, Maliyekkal Mariyumma had spoken about how conservatives did not think a Muslim girl should pursue an English education. Mariyumma mentioned that people on the roadside would heckle her when she was travelling to and from school. Her father had to make arrangements for food and prayers at the school so she could avoid harassment.
Mariyumma continued her English education at the convent school until she completed class 10 in 1943. She got married after completing her education and associated with Muslim Mahila Samajam and continued her social work. Mariyumma focused on activities that aimed to empower women.
Maliyekkal Mariyumma was an avid reader of English and the local people used to call her English Mariyumma. She became an icon for English education for Muslims in North Kerala.
The Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan gave his condolences and said, “We have lost a person who had left her indelible footprints along the history of Thalassery. Braving the barriers of conservatism, she learned English and thus became a guiding light for others. She fought for the educational rights of Muslim girls.”
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