Most individuals are aware of the common plight many children face in terms of going to school or receiving a proper education. Throughout the United States and abroad, students may encounter geographic and political obstacles when trying to study. There are several organizations that support and help these children by providing them with school supplies, renovating their often underfunded schools, and/or fighting gender inequality. These initiatives are noble and help raise a generation where more people are educated. When it comes to education; however, the elders tend to be forgotten. A lot of the time, society attempts to make up for those who were not able to go to school due to poverty by providing an increasing number of opportunities for young people today who may reside in extremely remote areas or lack the financial means to focus on their coursework. While this is the logical direction to take, the Aajibaichi Shala school allows several grandmothers in a village in Maharashtra who did not have the chance to go to school during their earlier years, receive somewhat of an education during their later yet still valuable years.
It is important to note that the desire to learn does not necessarily fade as one grows older. However, the desire may become abandoned as these grandmothers become preoccupied with their daily responsibilities. Since the opportunity of receiving an education is usually not available or impractical considering their older age, many grandmothers do not think about the chance as it is often not even a possibility. This educational initiative in the village has offered grandmothers the option to feel empowered and do something that they previously thought would be reserved only for the later generations. The Hindu illustrates the school as a place “where they receive elementary education, including fundamental mathematics, alphabets and their correct pronunciations as well as nursery rhymes.”
Our elders are often underestimated as many assume that their old age prevents them from being able to learn. On top dealing with ageism, these grandmothers have to deal with the sexism that comes with receiving an education. The StraitsTimes writes, “The school, which marks its first anniversary on International Women’s Day on Wednesday (March 8), is challenging traditional attitudes common to many Indian villages and helping its women shed the stigma of illiteracy.”
Learning to read is a practical skill that will eventually grant these grandmothers more freedom to travel outside of their village and perform small yet significant tasks such as reading newspapers or instruction manuals. Even during their later years, these grandmothers will be able to earn the knowledge that will expose them to what’s happening in their own country and the across the globe along with allowing them to accomplish more as self-reliant individuals.
Overall, I only hope to see this endeavor expand to more villages throughout India. This vision seems to be growing in the right direction as The Hindustan Times reports, “The new space is larger and meant to urge grannies from neighboring villages to join the school too. Eight more are expected shortly.” Enabling our elders to learn will equip them to lead a more self-supporting life where they will be able to perhaps do more for themselves and feed their own wants. At the very least, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are capable of doing something that was previously denied to them and hopefully feel just a little bit more fulfilled.