Published: 25th September 2019
This 85-year-old from a Wayanad tribal settlement just cleared Kerala's literacy test
At 85, Kembi was the oldest in her literacy class. She now wants to clear the literacy mission's class IV equivalency exam
It's often said that you are never too old to learn something new. If the phrase doesn't seem very convincing, one must listen to Kembi's story. You would have probably heard that around 3,000 residents in a tribal settlement in Wayanad had cleared the Kerala State Literacy Mission's literacy examination. At 85, Kembi is the oldest of the lot to pass the exam.
A resident of Padachikunnu colony in Wayanad's Mananthavady, she had appeared for the second phase of the special tribal literacy project. "As a child, I was really keen to study," she says. "But my parents never let me go to school." Growing up, Kembi used to work as a daily wage labourer. However, she never got rid of the desire to study more and then life took over.
As the years passed, Kembi had almost given up her hope of going to school or of reading and writing. But it all changed when she was approached by the literacy pracharak Claramma V V and instructor Sunitha P. The duo were campaigning as part of KSLM's total literacy programme for tribals in association with the Department of Scheduled Tribes Development. "Sunitha was the one who suggested that I write the exam. I was really inspired and decided to go ahead," she says. Teaching Kembi was a novel experience for Sunitha too, who hasn't ever had a student this old.
Kembi has two sons, who are daily wage labourers. "Both of them have gone to school and are literate. So, they would help me revise whatever was taught in the class. My classmates would also help me out," she says. Now you wouldn't be surprised to know that Kembi hasn't stopped learning. She is now gearing up to write the class IV equivalency exam next year. "I want to learn to use the computer too," she signs off.