Karthyayani Amma, The Nonagenarian’s Quest For Knowledge!

When age if just a number! After topping the "Aksharalaksham" test, she is now aiming at a 100/100 in Grade 10 when she turns 100 years old!

Kerala media is abuzz with the trending news of a sprightly 97-year-old Karthyayani Amma, scoring the top rank in the Aksharalaksham state literacy! Around 43,000 candidates have passed the exam. Yet what is extraordinary is that this nonagenarian has never been to school. Her inspiration to appear for the exam came from her youngest daughter, Ammini Amma, who passed the Tenth equivalent Test two years back.

Imagine all through her life, she slogged to fend for her family. She worked as domestic help and later as a cleaner in a temple! But the passion for acquiring knowledge was there and when opportunity struck, she grabbed it despite her age and frailty. She has redefined the perceptions of a grandmother! As Manju Warrier, an actor and goodwill ambassador of Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) said, “This grandmother was dreaming big at an age when most people are content to simply sit and apply lime on beetel leaves”. When Manju Warrier went to congratulate her, Karthyayani Amma was overjoyed to see her favourite actor! She has seen most of her films. Her intense enthusiasm in life and learning is worthy of approbation.

On 26th January 2018, Kerala Government introduced a programme named ‘Aksharalaksham’ to attain 100 per cent literacy in the State. During the literacy mission, Karthyayani Amma was asked if she would be interested and of course, the grand lady was excited! But she could not attend classes and hence a teacher, Sathi K, visited her and taught her at home. Sathi confessed that her student was too bright and eager for new knowledge. More than 47,000 neo-literates benefitted by this literacy programme. At the time of writing the literacy exam, Karthyayani Amma was nervous. But after finishing the first answer, her confidence took over and she essayed the exam easily. Her eagerness made a co-examinee peep into her paper. When the invigilator showed annoyance, Amma winked and lightened the gravity of the situation.

Her amazing result is famous throughout Kerala. She topped the exam, scoring 98 out of 100! But was she jubilant? Not much, she wondered where she lost those two marks! She had studied hard and was confident of scoring full marks. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr Pinarayi Vijayan, honoured her with a certificate in a ceremony! When he asked her if she was planning to pursue graduation, she replied that she would love to, provided her children allowed her. She also confided that she wanted to learn computers! Her other aspiration was to study the English language. The Education Minister of the State proudly gifted her with a laptop. Karthyayani Amma requested him to start it for her and she typed her name in English much to the delight of all the attendees! Her name is quite a long one- Karthyayani Amma.

Commonwealth Learning Goodwill, a Canada based organisation, was amazed at the nonagenarian’s gusto for learning. This organisation comprises of 53 nations from Commonwealth countries (including India) and promotes education through distance learning. Recognising her enthusiasm, it has honoured her as the Commonwealth Learning’s Goodwill Ambassador. The Vice-President, Mr Balasubramanian presented her with the award! The members of this organisation will be meeting her soon. Laurels after laurels are being showered upon her.

Currently, this amazing lady lives in Alappuzha with her daughter and grandchildren. She is assiduously preparing for her fourth class equivalent exam. Her ambition, “I want to write my tenth standard exams when I turn 100 and score 100 out of 100.” She has literally proved that age is just a number. May her desire come true and let us wish her all the best.

Image source: Pixabay


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I am fascinated by the English Language and the wide range of synonyms! Nature is gorgeous and I find beauty in every little springs it has to offer. My another love is to mingle with read more...

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