Eyes glowing with excitement and oozing confidence, 96-year-old Karthayayani Amma, who scored 98 out of 100 in her Class 4 equivalent exam says, "I knew as long as I study I would score this."
The super grandmom from Kerala is the oldest ever, in the state, to take a literacy test and justifiably she flaunts her achievement.
"I saw small children studying...I too had the desire to study. So when they asked me, I said why not! I want to study for the Class X equivalent but have just finished Class IV," Amma told NDTV.
Amma has another big dream. "After this, I want to learn computer too. In my free time I can use the computer, type on the computer", said Amma. The Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday honoured Amma in the traditional way by giving her a set of two sarees with traditional golden Kasava border and also a certificate.
"I didn't study when I should have...I am glad that I am getting the opportunity to do that now," Amma told NDTV and the dignitaries including the Chief Minister, who had come to felicitate her. She proudly told the audience that she has no health challenge even at this age, and no matter what, she needed her tea with milk, twice a day!
The literacy programme tests reading, writing and basic mathematical skills. This year approximately 42,933 candidates cleared the test, taking the state closer to its aim of 100 per cent literacy.
In 1991, Kerala was declared fully literate, which means attaining 90 per cent literacy, as per the UNESCO norms. Even though Kerala is the flag bearer of literacy in the country, around 18 lakh still remained illiterate according to the 2011 Census. This prompted the state government to launch the "Aksharalaksham" programme on January 26. The motto of the programme is to eradicate illiteracy among marginalised communities like tribals, poor fishermen and slum-dwellers.