The achievements of R.Shakira Begum, 30-year-old daughter of an ex-serviceman of Thondamandurai, a sleepy village in Veppanthattai taluk in Perambalur district, one of the most economically backward regions in the State, is a morale booster for those who have been championing the cause of women’s education in the district. Her feat is all the more inspiring because she hails from a district notorious for child marriages; more than 170 of them stopped just in the last two years.

Her 56 rank in the Indian Forest Service examination 2012 proves that even girls from completely rural background, that too from minority communities, with education in “very ordinary” institutions, could turn out to be achievers.

Daughter of S. Abdul Rasheed and R. Shazadi Begum, she had her schooling at the Panchayat Union Elementary School and Government Higher School, Thondamandurai. Ms. Shakira finished her higher secondary at St. Dominic Girls Higher Secondary School, Perambalur, and graduated from the Anbil Dharmalingam Agriculture College and Research Institute, Navalaur Kottapattu (Tiruchi district).

She won the third rank at the national level in the entrance examinations conducted by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and earned her doctorate in Genetics from the ICAR, New Delhi. She has been working as a scientist in the National Groundnut Research Station in Gujarat.

District Collector Darez Ahmed, who is waging a war against child marriages against stiff opposition from various quarters including Muslim leaders , congratulated Ms.Shakeera on Monday on her achievements.

According to an official release, he commended the parents of Ms.Shakeera for helping their daughter reach such a level and expressed the hope that this would ensure change of heart among parents of Perambalur district who were satisfied with their daughters doing just SSLC or Plus Two. The parents should emulate the example of Ms.Shakeera and help their female children pursue higher education and reach its higher echelons, he pleaded.

Mr. Ahmed said that her progress would provide impetus to those undergoing training for Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission examinations in the district. At least 80 candidates trained by the district administration secured government jobs last year by passing TNPSC examinations, the Collector noted.