At the age of 40, Sumitra Bairwa has little hesitation in writing the Class 10 examination, conducted by the Rajasthan State Open School (RSOS), with teenage students.
“My elder son is in Class 12 and younger one in Class 10. I dropped out of my school after Class 8 since I was the only girl student at the school at Paraliya village in Kota district around 25 years ago,” said Sumita before taking her examination on Friday at Mahatma Gandhi Senior Secondary School in Rampura locality of Kota.
Like her, a number of elderly people, including women, are appearing in Class 10 and 12 RSOS examination being held at the Rampura school and Dadabari Senior Secondary School in Kota city.
Sumitra, a peon at a private diagnostic centre here, wants to clear Class 10 examination and later Class 12 so that she can pursue nursing education.
Arpana Chauhan (37), who gives vocational training at a non-government organisation, took the examination with Sumitra, a Dalit woman. “I have to clear the examination since it is now mandatory to be a Class 10 pass to teach vocational courses, such as stitching,” said Arpana of Gangapur village in Karauli district. She married in Kota in 2000.
She said there was no school in her village 22 years ago, so she could not study beyond Class 8.
Arpana has three daughters – the eldest one is in Class 12 and the younger twins in Class 10. “Education is helpful in every walk of life and there is no age bar to getting education,” she said.
Manju Kumari, an employee with the social welfare department, is taking Class 12 examination. “I studied up to Class 8. Persuaded by my kids, I cleared Class 10 examination four years ago; now I am taking Class 12 examination,” she said.
Manju’s eldest daughter has completed graduation, another daughter is pursuing graduation, and her son is in Class 7.
Mahatma Gandhi Senior Secondary School principal Mithlesh Kamthan said around 272 aspirants appeared in RSOS examination in Kota. “Of them, around 50 are elderly people aged between 25 and 50 years,” Kamthan said.
“The zeal among the elderly people to write the open school examination is an inspiration for others who usually feel shy of their age and do not pursue education.”