It is Never Too Late to Learn by Robin Trimingham
“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream” Les Brown
This past week I read a fantastic story on msn.com about a school in rural India exclusively for grannies. While you might wonder what would motivate these women to go back to the books at this point in their lives; it turns out that this is their very first time to ever sit in a classroom and they are fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming literate.
Denied access to education as children as was the cultural norm at that time, these spunky women who are all over the age of sixty, carry book bags and wear matching fuchsia colored saris when they attend classes for two hours every afternoon.
The school is the first of its kind in India and challenges both cultural and social traditions in that everyone who attends is treated as an equal member of the community and no distinctions are made between rich and poor and wives and widows.
The school which is funded by a local charitable trust, is teaching reading, writing and arithmetic and helping these women overcome the stigma of being illiterate. Their families are united in their support of their efforts because as one villager put it “they are our diamonds and we should treasure them”.
I can’t tell you how much I admire both these women and their village. As we have seen in other parts of the world it is incredibly difficult to both advance with the times and maintain the good aspects of one’s cultural heritage.
As a modern woman, I have a great deal of respect for the people who recognized that these women should be given the opportunity to acquire an education simply because it would enrich their lives and make them happy.
This a brave and progressive initiative and I hope the idea will spread not just to other parts of India, but to all the countries where Olderhood is read.
If you think that this does not apply to North America – think again.
In America, the Literacy Project Foundation estimates that at least 20% of the population is functionally illiterate (reading at or below the minimum level) meaning that approximately 44 million adults are unable to read a simple child’s story.
Factor in the increasing need to be able to operate a computer to complete everyday tasks (which requires a person to be able to read and write) and increases in longevity and there is a perfect storm brewing on the horizon – a world filled with older people who can cannot pay their bills online nor read the label of a prescription bottle.
Will someone you know be one of them? Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from offering assistance. If you google “learn to read English online free” 46 million results will appear. Anyone who needs help to improve their reading can learn online – in private – at their own speed – for free.
There are a great many reasons why an adult might not be able to read. The only shame in being illiterate is not doing something about it when you get the chance.
By Robin Trimingham