Defying the shortcomings of old age, a 96-year-old woman has cracked the literacy examination conducted by the Kerala government scoring 98 out of 100 marks.
Karthyayini Amma, who lives in Cheppad in Alappuzha district, was the oldest among 43,330 students who sat for the examination in August this year in a bid to be deemed ‘literate’. She is also the oldest ever to take and crack the literacy exam.
As per the results published on Wednesday, the nonagenarian scored 28 marks out of 30 in Mathematics, 30 out of 30 in reading test and 30 out of 30 in writing. The reading and writing tests were conducted in Malayalam. The examination, as part of ‘Aksharalaksham’ mission of the state government, is conducted to ensure numerical cent per cent literacy in Kerala. The programme was kickstarted on Republic Day this year.
With 98% marks in the examination, Karthyayini will be declared ‘literate’ by the state government and is eligible to write the equivalent of the fourth-standard examination next year. On Thursday, as the oldest among the examinees, the 96-year-old will be the first to receive a merit certificate from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram. The 96-year-old has never attended school in her life and raised her family by working as a sweeper at temples and nearby households. These days, she lives in Cheppad with her daughter, grand-children and great grand-children.
Over the phone, in a grainy voice, Amma said, “I am very happy to know I passed. But I am also a bit sad that I lost two marks.”
“As long as I am healthy, I want to study more,” she added.
Except for a bit of forgetfulness, that developed in recent years, and the wavering of the hand, the 96-year-old is very healthy.
Her grand-daughter Sajitha said, ‘It was difficult for her to prepare for the exam because she had never held a pen in her life or tried to write anything. Her hand used to waver all the time. But she worked very hard.’
Sati Krishnan, the ‘prerak’ (teacher) who played the role of the instructor to prepare Karthyayini for the examination, said over the phone that she was elated to hear of her student’s performance.
“She is a very smart student and picks up letters very fast. She’s very good with memorising poems. The thing that astounds me every time is that she never thinks about her age. It never crosses her mind that she’s 96. I cannot express how energetic she is,” said Krishnan.
“When I informed her that she got 98 out of 100, she said ‘ayyo’ (oh). After she wrote the exam in August, she had told me that the question paper was very easy for her. Apparently, everything she learned didn’t come for the exam. (smiles),” she added.
On Thursday, the local village panchayat will arrange a vehicle to take Karthyayini to the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, two-and-a-half hours away, to take part in the CM’s programme. Tomorrow coincidentally is also ‘Kerala Piravi’ (the Kerala formation day) and the ‘Malayala Bhasha’ day (Malayalam language day).
“She is so excited to meet the CM. She has already started getting ready,” Krishnan said.
Of the 43,330 students who sat for the exam, 42,933 have passed.