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Higher Secondary Exam

Mother returns to books, writes higher secondary examinations with son

Forced to drop out in Class IV, 40-year-old now first-year college student

Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 27.08.23, 05:48 AM
Latika Mondal and her son Sourabh. Latika received The Telegraph Education Foundation honour on Saturday

Latika Mondal and her son Sourabh. Latika received The Telegraph Education Foundation honour on Saturday

Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Two students from the same family appeared for the higher secondary examinations this year.

They are not siblings but a mother and son.


The mother who had only studied up to Class IV decided to enroll herself in a school shedding her inhibitions and turning a deaf ear to the taunts of many in Nadia’s Shantipur, where they live.

Both of them cleared higher secondary examinations and the mother, Latika Mondal, 40, outscored her son Sourabh, 17.

Their teacher was Latika’s elder daughter Shila, who had appeared for higher secondary with exactly the same papers. Cheering from the sides was Latika’s husband Ashim, who has studied up to Class VII.

On Saturday, the mother and son walked up to the Science City stage to hand over scholarships to students who are battling financial and physical constraints to keep

Latika received The Telegraph Education Foundation honour.

Her son, who stood by her side, has been a pillar of support throughout, not embarrassed or shy of his mother’s desire to sit in a classroom again.

“For me, it is a great experience to have studied alongside my mother these last two years. I am proud of her,” Sourabh said.

Like those to whom she handed over scholarships, Latika had a battle to fight. A battle against poverty and her mother’s sickness that took away from her the right to education.

“My mother was so sick that she had to frequently come to Kolkata for treatment,” Latika said.

In 2001, she was married to a construction worker.

“I never lost interest in studies. The desire to resume studies actually became stronger when my daughter’s schooling began. But being an over-burdened homemaker from a poor family, I never got the opportunity to resume my studies,” Latika said.

Three years back, she took the first step that was long overdue.

She appeared for Madhyamik (the state secondary examinations) from an open school under the West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling.

After her Madhyamik, Latika got admitted to Class XI at Nrisinhapur High School as a regular student in humanities.

She chose Bengali, history, political science, education and Sanskrit as her subjects.

The mother and son opted for the same papers so they could study together.

Latika’s daughter Shila, an undergraduate student, guided them.

For Latika, resuming studies meant getting up in the morning, completing her chores, making tiffin for the family and setting out for school.

After she returned home, she had to cook before returning to books.

“One has to study to pass the examination,” she said with a smile.

But despite all the trouble, Latika’s interest in studies did not wane. She is now a first-year student at Santipur College. She is studying history.

Latika is determined to keep studying, not to become a teacher as she had wanted in her childhood but to be an “educated human being”.

It was not an easy decision, she told The Telegraph later.

“The society has progressed but perhaps not in every way. There are people who still are critical about a woman’s aspirations to study at this age. There were neighbours who did talk behind my back. It was because of this that I had appeared for Madhyamik in private.... but then I decided it was enough, no more,” she said.

Last updated on 27.08.23, 10:55 AM

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