Vrindavan, 2017.08.21 (VT; Dev Sharma, DJ): Fifty-year-old Ganga Bhagat Jadaun is entering the first grade this year.
A resident of a small village called Karhala near Barsana, Jadaun was never able to study in his childhood. He never even learned to read and write.
Life was difficult without knowing how to read, says Jadaun. If he ever wanted to travel, he had to ask people which bus or train went where, and at what time. He needed assistance for many parts of daily life that we take for granted, from reading street signs to running his own household, budgeting for his family, and so forth. But he managed somehow.
For the last few years, however, Jadaun has been longing to read the Ramayan. It was this strong desire that finally sparked his courageous move to begin his basic studies at the age of fifty.
Last term, he approached a local English-medium primary school – Shri Radhika Modern Public School – and asked to be admitted.
At first, the head teacher thought he was joking, but when she realized he was serious, Jadaun was officially admitted into Kindergarten.
Since then, every morning Jadaun wakes up and gets ready, grabs his school bag and heads off to school along with his four children. His oldest son Santosh is in ITI, the younger son Keshav is in 10th grade, and his two daughters are in 7th and 8th.
Jadaun studied hard and passed his Kindergarten finals. This year he will be studying in first grade.
His family, villagers and fellow classmates teased him at first, but now they are proud of him.
“Ganga Bhagat bhaiya may be significantly older than our other students,” says school principal Hemlata Jadaun, “but he is very serious about his studies. He is really a model student. His attendance record is perfect, and he participates in group prayers and every other class activity, just like the children do.”
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