Students for life: Two elderly women, 105 and 98, among Nari Shakti awardees

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Thiruvananthapuram–At 105, Bhageerathi Amma must have her hands full cuddling for her 12 great-grandchildren, not to mention supervising her 16 grandchildren and six children, she has not let her hunger for education die even at this ripe age.

Bhageerathi, hailing from Kollam district, is the oldest student in the country. She along with another Kerala woman Karthiyayini Amma, aged 98, has won the Nari Shakti Puraskar 2019.

Due to advanced age, the centenarian failed to travel to Delhi to receive the award from President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday, though Karthiyayini received hers and was visibly ecstatic.

Karthiyayini, hailing from Alappuzha district, also has six children like Bhageerathi.

It was due to efforts made under Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) that these two ‘students’ got this award. An official attached to the KSLMA project said that Karthiyayini was too excited on meeting the President.

“Union Ministry for Women and Child Development officials, who announced these awards, told Bhageerathi that they will come in person and give her the award at her home, soon,” said the KSLMA official.

He said that the two women had passed two examinations conducted by the KSLMA as part of adult literacy.

“Karthiyayini secured 98 marks out of 100 in ‘Aksharalaksham’ examination. This is a simple literacy programme conducted by us. Bhageerathi passed her Level 4 equivalency exams, thus becoming the oldest student in the country,” added the official.

Vasanthkumar, a neighbour of Bhageerathi, told IANS: “She stays with her youngest daughter and is fully aware of what’s happening around. Now, she says she wishes to study further and appear in the next level of her literacy programme. As and when she is ready, a teacher will visit her house to teach her.”

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