The jitters of exams for this octogenarian

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Kaalichothy becomes oldest candidate to sit Ernakulam District Literacy Mission Standard 4 equivalent exam

Kaalichothy becomes oldest candidate to sit Ernakulam District Literacy Mission Standard 4 equivalent exam

For Kaalichothy, 80, the oldest member of a Scheduled Caste (SC) family in Panangad, Saturday was a momentous day.

Having passed the Basic Literacy Program run by the District Literacy Mission before the onset of the pandemic, the octogenarian was the oldest candidate to sit the equivalent fourth examination in Ernakulam district.

Given her age and frailty, she was allowed to take the exam at home. She dictated and her 20-year-old granddaughter wrote it down.

When asked how she did on the exam, the affable Kaalichothy smiled charmingly. “At least I was able to do something like that at my age,” she said.

Kaalichothy was scouted by a literacy prerak a few years ago when she was looking for potential beneficiaries for literacy programs at a job guarantee scheme job site. His daughter worked there and Kaalichothy was around.

“We enrolled her after she showed interest in the literacy program. She couldn’t attend classes due to her poor health and we used to teach her on our field trips. She can go further if health permits,” said Suma Raveendran, literacy prerak for the Kumbalam panchayat.

Kaalichothy was among 108 candidates who sat for the equivalent Standard 4 exam in Ernakulam district on Saturday. Among them were 89 women, 44 from SC communities, one tribesman and three people with disabilities.

The equivalent Standard 7 exam, which was conducted in parallel, was taken by 107 people, including 58 women, 23 SC members and eight people with disabilities. Among the candidates, Thankamma, 68, who took the exam at a center in Piravom, was the oldest.

This was the 14th batch of the Standard 4 equivalent course and the 15th batch of the Standard 7 equivalent course in the district.

“There has been a drop in the number of applicants because of the pandemic. However, unlike in previous years where people who entered the program just out of fantasy for the certificate, those who took the exam this time actually needed it either to gain promotions or were so motivated to learn and take it to the next level,” said Deepa James, District Coordinator, District Literacy Mission.

Registration for new batches of various equivalent programs is ongoing, with May 31 being the last day.

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