Aajibaichi Shala, a school that has been set up solely for elderly women, is doing the rounds all across the news and social media. The ages of the students range from 60 to 90. Started by Yogendra Bangar and the Motiram Dalal Charitable Trust, the school is creating a sensation in the locality of Phangane, in Maharashtra's Thane district. The school is the first of its kind in India for grandmothers who did not have the chance to get an education.
This school is open only for a couple of hours per day, and all the students wear a standard uniform of pink sarees. Speaking to FirstPost, the founder of the Motilal Dalal Charitable trust, Dilip Dalal, said, "We started this school to inculcate love and respect for the elderly." The trust wants to convey the message that elderly people are really important to the society.
Started on 8 March, 2016, International Women's Day, the school has 27 students in total, who sit together reading, writing and learning Marathi. 90-year-old Sitabai Deshmukh, the oldest student in the school, told Hindustan Times, "Never in my long life had I thought I would get a chance to go to a school. When I was young, my family was poor and girls didn’t have the chance to go to schools. I have had a new life for the last year." Sitabai is often accompanied by her eight-year-old granddaughter Anushka, who helps her grandmother with her homework. Speaking to the Hindustan Times, the little girl says, "We have fun studying together."
The school premises were shifted to a bigger space on Republic Day this year, and the grandmothers are much delighted with the move. Joining with the local kids, the students celebrated Republic Day, saluting the national flag. "I feel proud watching the grandmothers taking part in such an occasion, that too as students," said the humble Dilip Dalal.
Yogendra Bangar, who came up with this heartwarming initiative, told FirstPost, "Everybody in the village encouraged us; no one said a thing against the school. They said, 'Nobody has done something like this before. Whatever you are doing is good for the society. We are with you.'" Happy with the extremely positive response all around, Bangar went on to say, "Knowledge has great importance in life. It is very important to educate these elderly people who never got an opportunity to go to school. We started this school to bring happiness to their lives and make the village 100 percent literate. We have planned some creative initiatives wherein they will be trained to make hand-woven quilts and paper bags."
Kantabai More, a joyful 65-year-old student, says, "Now that all of us old ladies are in the same class, we have a lot of fun gardening. We also go on day trips. Dilipji has promised us a picnic, which we are all looking forward to."