If You Are Reading This, You Owe Her

If You Are Reading This, You Owe Her


She may not be as famous as Vidya Sagar, Swami Vivekananda or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan whose contributions in the field of education have received National and International tributes. But, her augmentation on the liberation of the Indian Women in academic line is no less spectacular. She is one of the earliest crusaders of education for girls. She is Savitribai Phule.
In 2008, Thom Wolf, Professor of Global Studies of the University Institute, New Delhi, presented a paper on Savitribai Phule titled ‘Savitribai and India’s Conversation on Education’. The paper begins with the question, “You owe her. But do you know her?” It declares Savitribai Phule as the “Mother of modern education” and continues, “If you are an Indian woman who reads, you owe her. If you are an educated Indian woman, you owe her. If you are an Indian schoolgirl reading this chapter in English, you owe her. If you are an educated International desi woman, you owe her”.
 
Her Thirst for Learning:
In 1840, at the age of 9, as a newly wedded bride, Savitribai moved to Pune with her husband and her most prized possession, a book. Looking at her eagerness to read the book, her husband, Jyotirao Phule (then 13 years old), taught her how to read and write. But, little did he know that he was planting a seed that would change Indian history. Thereafter, Savitribai Phule earned the distinction of being the first woman to become a teacher in India; this, at a time, when women were denied education and mostly kept at the fringes of society.
Forming History:
In 1848, Savitribai Phule placed ‘universal, child-sensitive, intellectually critical and socially reforming education at the very core agenda for all children in India’ by setting up the first girls’ school with about 8 students. Back then, education was reserved only for the upper caste; others were abandoned from its purview. But Savitribai, along with Jyotirao Phule, broke the shackles imposed by society and built the school in Bhide Wade, Narayan Peth, Pune.
It wasn’t an easy task for her, and she faced many hurdles in her path. Despite facing obstruction and dissent from society, she opened another school in the same year. By 1851, she was handling about 4 schools.
‘Kavya Phule’, published in 1834, was a poem written by her which meant ‘Go, Get Education’. It encouraged women at that time to get an education and free themselves.
Public Figure:

Savitribai Phule inspired many young girls who followed her footsteps. A young woman who was a student of Savitribai, Mukta, wrote an essay which became the linchpin of ‘Dalit Literature’.

Savitribai Phule is also credited for coming up with the concept of Parent-Teacher meeting. She firmly believed that parents and teachers played the biggest role in supporting and guiding a child.