By Rajveer Sokhey
Education is vital, as it gives people the minimalistic skills to survive as adults in the real world. These skills include simple literacy and numeracy, as well as the ability to communicate, complete tasks and work with others. Education is essential for nearly every type of job or career, and in many cases, education makes the difference between being able to perform a job safely and accurately and being unable to perform a job at all. Although, what if you were never presented with the chance to gain a simple education? Where do you go now? Well, a few miles outside of the city of Mumbai in India, you’ll find a village with the name of Phangane. Home to a pioneering school where the students aren’t quite what you’d expect: most are adorable grannies. At Aajibaichi Shala, older women whose educational opportunities were limited earlier in life due to their gender, are now learning to read and write their names.
Indian culture is extremely unique, with many calling it outdated, it is said that usually a woman must first obey her father, then her husband, and then her son; this used to be the normal pattern that Indian females went through in life. Although many things have changed with the rapid growth of the nation, such a cultural norm has definitely created a major divide between male and female. But Aajibaichi Shala school is here to change that, a one-year program, women have class in the morning for a couple of hours, learning from teachers half their age.
A story in Hindustan Times had quoted Sitabai Deshmukh, 90, the oldest student at the school. Her youngest granddaughter, eight-year-old Anushka, sometimes walks with her to the class. “Never in my long life had I thought I would get a chance to attend a school,” Sitabai says. “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.” Most of the women are fond of learning, and simply missed out on the opportunity as they had to support their own families, or were married off at an extremely young age. Such programs prove that there is still hope, for everyone. With the world rapidly changing with new and advanced technologies, this is a step forward to a better, brighter, and a more progressive world, one where no one is left behind, but rather brought up with the flow. For the senior students, it’s a critical point of pride; for everyone, it’s proof that you’re never too old to learn something great.