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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Oldest neo-literate dead

By Our Staff Reporter



K. S. Sankaran

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEB. 26. At the age of 96, he was still a student — studious, industrious and eager to learn something new each day. As soon as he passed his examination equivalent to the fourth standard in October last, he expressed the desire to pursue his studies and to appear for the seventh standard examination. `God willing, I will complete the tenth class too," he used to say.

But, God willed otherwise. K.S. Sankaran of Njarakkura near Valakkavu in Thrissur district, who has been enjoying the distinction of being the oldest neo-literate in Kerala, died at his house on Friday night. He leaves behind his wife. Karthyayani, who in her eighties faithfully followed her husband's footsteps into the world of letters and learning. She too had successfully cleared the fourth standard equivalency examination.

The Kerala State Literacy Mission and the Thrissur District panchayat had together planned to felicitate Sankaran for his achievements and the function was to be held in Thiruvananthapuram. But, owing to his failing health, Sankaran conveyed his inability to travel all the way to the capital from Thrissur. The venue was, therefore shifted to Thrissur and the function was to be held on March 16.

Sankaran had to drop out of the pre-primary class, where he had just been initiated into the world of letters, owing to circumstances beyond his control. It was when he was leading a retired life, with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that the State Literacy Mission set up a centre for adult and continuing education in his native village.

One of his grand-daughters, Sheeba, happened to be selected as an `Assistant prekak', motivating adults to take to the learning process. Drawing inspiration from her efforts at leading senior citizens back into the classrooms, Sankaran too decided to give it a try. Thus he was back to the arena of learning that he had left behind 90 years ago.

Vision problems

Vision problems and ill-health did not permit him to go to the classes regularly. However, he would not be deterred. He continued to learn, sitting at home. Her husband's untiring efforts motivated Karthyayani as well. He had kept on reading and assimilating whatever printed material he could lay hands on. But this was not to last long and he passed away while was watching TV in the presence of his dear ones on Friday night. The Minister for Education and the officials of the Kerala State Literacy Mission have expressed grief at Sankaran's `untimely' death.

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