Meet the 64-year-old class XII exam candidate

S. Palani is prepraring for the exam through the National Institute of Open Schooling. Photo: K. Pichumani  

The last time S. Palani went to school was in 1967. That was when he cleared his SSLC exam.

Almost 47 years and two degrees later, the retired income-tax officer wants to pursue an M.Phil in Tamil. But there is one hitch. He has not completed his class XII examination, a pre-requisite.

That is where the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) — one of the national boards of education which offers secondary, senior secondary and vocational certificates that students can customise and complete at their own pace — came to his aid. “I read about NIOS and immediately applied to it,” said the 64-year-old, who retired from service in 2009.

Now, Palani, spends his evenings underlining important sentences in chapters dealing with various topics from Harappan civilization to methods and techniques of research in sociology.

“After my retirement, I pursued a BA in Tamil through the Tamil Nadu Open University, and now, I am waiting for the results for my MA in Tamil. The TNOU offers students the option of pursuing a BA in Tamil even without a class XII qualification,” he said.

P. Ravi, regional director of the recently set up NIOS centre in Chennai, said the system was flexible and anyone over 14 years could enrol. “The advantage is that students can choose any combination of the subjects offered, and write the examination at their own pace within five years, after which they can get re-admitted. They can transfer credit for up to four papers,” he said.

It also helps those like Palani, who still want to be “competitive”. According to Palani, “Forgetting and remembering is a cycle.” Which is why, he said, he continues to read. He said he has even self-published books in Tamil.

Mr. Palani said he got into government service after completing a course in typewriting and stenography. The first one from his family to complete SSLC, he hardly seems daunted by the exhaustive sociology, psychology, history, English and Tamil NIOS textbooks on his shelf.

“I am studying to get a PhD.,” he said, adding “I want my grandchildren to respect me.” Eventually, he plans to visit one of the contact classes. “I might just be the oldest person there,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 7:38:24 PM |

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