104-year-old scores 89/100 in literacy examination

A beaming centenarian has given the Kerala government yet another reason to brag about its famous literacy endeavours.

Kerala's Education Minister Vasudevan Sivankutty on Friday posted a photo of 104-year-old Kuttiyamma (right) on social media to wish her the best after she scored well in an exam conducted by the state government's continuing education initiative.

"104-year-old Kuttiyamma from Kottayam has scored 89/100 in the Kerala State Literacy Mission's test. Age is no barrier to enter the world of knowledge. With utmost respect and love, I wish Kuttiyamma and all other new learners the best," he tweeted, along with the picture of a visibly ecstatic Madam Kuttiyamma.

The centenarian has now qualified for the Class 4 equivalent test of the state's Saksharata (literacy) mission, reported NDTV.

The Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority is funded by the state government and aims to promote literacy, continuing education and lifelong learning for all citizens.

As praise poured in for Madam Kuttiyamma's creditable effort, her family said she has already started preparing for the Class 4 equivalent exam.

Born in a poor family in Ayarkunnam town, located between the cities Pala and Kottayam, Madam Kuttiyamma did not get an opportunity to go to school and married at age 15.

Though she can read well, writing was difficult. When literacy mission volunteer M. Rehna approached her two months ago, she grabbed the opportunity, reported the Hindustan Times.

"Her only condition was that the teacher should speak louder because she has a hearing issue," said Ms Rehna. "She attended classes at home in the morning and evening religiously."

Madam Kuittyamma's great-granddaughter M. Sheeja, a high school student in Kottayam, said: "She keeps nagging me with her doubts."

When invigilators conducted the examination, Madam Kuttiyamma flashed a toothless smile and repeated her plea to speak louder.

Her family members told the Hindustan Times that she was not tense during the exam and maintained the enthusiasm of a school toddler.

"She made our panchayat famous. She is a role model for many. We salute her enthusiasm and spirit," said Mr Jiji Nagamattom, a Ayarkunnam panchayat member.

Kottayam is known as a city of letters. It was declared the first 100 per cent literate city in India in 1989.

The Kerala State Literacy Mission has been conducting classes and equivalent exams for those who missed their opportunities to learn for many years. Its education centres have empowered many like Madam Kuttiyamma.

In 2018, a then 96-year-old woman, Karthiyayani Amma from Alappuzha district, cleared the first formal examination under the state's literacy mission Aksharalaksham with 98 out of 100 marks. She also got a special mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Mann Ki Baat programme.


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