Literacy Mission exams in Kerala’s Ernakulam district throw up many inspiring tales

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Candidates writing the tenth equivalent course examination at SRV School in Kochi, Ernakulam district, Kerala, on September 16, 2023.

Candidates writing the tenth equivalent course examination at SRV School in Kochi, Ernakulam district, Kerala, on September 16, 2023. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

After appearing for her final examination at the MKM Higher Secondary School at Piravom in Kerala’s Ernakulam district this Wednesday (September 20), 70-year-old Chinna KP will pack her bags, head straight to the Kochi airport and take a late-night flight. to fly back to Florida in the United States to see her son after a year.

A US green card holder, Ms. Chinna, chose to spend a year back at her home in Piravom to reconnect with the world of knowledge which she had left behind decades ago as a Class 10 dropout. By the time she returns to the US, Ms. Chinna will become the oldest among the 905 candidates from Ernakulam district to appear for the Kerala State Literacy Mission’s (KSLM) tenth equivalent exams which are under way.

Though initially reluctant, Ms. Chinna, stirred up by her husband and children, chose to give the classes held at a study center near her house on Sundays a try and was soon interested. “She never missed a class thereafter and was very enthusiastic. She had the wholehearted support of her husband, Raju, who used to drop and pick her up for the classes,” says Apsara KG, the study center coordinator.

Exams for the 16th batch of the tenth equivalent course being held across 16 centers in Ernakulam district have thrown up several such inspiring stories.

Hearing- and speech-impaired, Saneesh KS, 39, had dropped out when he could not clear Class IV. Though his mother tried to rekindle the spirit of learning in the years since, Mr. Saneesh chose to “remain in his world of silence”, helping his father’s vegetable business. Then suddenly, four years ago, he found that urge and joined the KSLM’s fourth-standard equivalent and followed it up with the seventh-standard equivalent course.

“He is now writing the tenth equivalent exam with the help of an interpreter proficient in sign language since he cannot otherwise follow the instructions during the exams,” says Ushakumari KS, KSLM nodal prerak for Paravur municipality.

Paralysed from hip down and abandoned by her father as a child, Vijayalakshmi, 33, of Chendamangalam used to find solace in her mother’s love and in creating handicrafts. Having dropped out of school at a young age, she has since cleared the fourth and seventh equivalent course and is now being literally lifted to her seat at the exam center in Paravur.

When Priyakumar, 49, walked into the exam hall at a school in Paravur, teachers from another school who were serving as invigilators were surprised to find what their school bus driver was doing there. They were even more happy to learn that his wife, Jeena, was giving him company in writing the exams.

Jibina, 36, and Anupriya, 31, had joined the course with their spouses who, however, dropped out busy with their livelihood. But both were unwavering in supporting their wives.

“Not less than 15,000 candidates have cleared the tenth equivalent exam over the last 15 batches. In fact, many from Ernakulam district have gone further and bagged professional degrees, including in law,” says Deepa James, district coordinator, KSLM.

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