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An Indian woman aged 92 went to school for the first time and has learned how to read and write.

Salima Khan, the great-grandmother was born in around 1931 and was married at the age of 14. She had a lifelong dream of being able to read and write.

Salima, who lives in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, said that there were no schools in her village when she was a girl, according to media reports.

Six months ago, Salima started studying alongside pupils eight decades younger to her, and she was accompanied on her way to class by her grandson’s wife.

Her story emerged after a video of her counting from one to 100 went viral on social media.

“My grandchildren used to trick me into giving them extra money as I couldn’t count currency notes,” she was quoted as saying by the Times of India. “Those days are gone.”

The literacy rate in India is around 73%, according to the 2011 census.

“Her story reinforces the belief that the pursuit of knowledge is not limited by age,” local education officer Lakshmi Pandey was quoted as saying by AFP.

Volunteers from a government education initiative had identified Khan as a potential student and encouraged her to go to school, Pandey said.

Teachers were initially hesitant on teaching Salima, but were won over by her passion to study, school headmistress Pratibha Sharma said.

“We didn’t have the heart to refuse her,” Sharma told the Times of India.

Inspiring others to join her, since she went to school, 25 other women from her village also started literacy classes, including two daughters-in-law. 

 

Guinness World Records lists the late Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge from Kenya as the oldest person to complete primary school, having enrolled in 2004 when he was aged 84.

A former Mau Mau guerilla fighter against British colonial forces, Maruge started school wanting to count money and read the Bible, and was later appointed senior head-boy.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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Updated: 28 Sep 2023, 08:21 PM IST

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