August 17, 2019
KOCHI: A young woman who broke all social hackles about a century back to take up teaching goes out of the notice of the government. Saraswathi Bai Narayana Mallya created history when she became the first female teacher in 1919 in Thiru Kochi when she was only 15 years old.
The present Kerala then consisted of Travancore, Thiru Kochi and Malabar. Whiie Travancore and Thiru Kochi were ruled by royal families, Malabar was under the control of Madras presidency.
Having Konkani as her mother tongue, Saraswathi Bai had good knowledge of Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, Malayalam and English.
Her kin celebrated her 125 birth anniversary last year in Mattancherry near here. She started her career as a teacher in Tirumala Dewaswom High School managed by Tirumala Devaswom Balika Dharma Pathashala in 1908 here.
Saraswathi Bai, who was also an acclaimed artisan, lost her job as there were no girl students coming to school.
She set up a thatched shed near her husband’s place in West Kochi to pursue her mission to spread knowledge among village children. Saraswathi Bai was blessed to have a husband Narayana Mallya who backed her in all her ventures. Later, she was appointed teacher in Tirumala Dewaswom High School in 1919. It was during her time that noon meal was introduced.
She got married at the age of 13 and had six children, including Padmasree Purushottama Mallya, who is a renowned Konkani litterateur, poet, historian and translator among others.
She was born to Sanskrit pandit Harihara Bhatt and Ganga Bai here September in1893. She passed away in 1984 at the age of 91 years.
Her daughter-in-law Sarojini told The Covai Post that the government had not approached the family to honour her. Sarojini said the family was also not in favour of approaching the government to get the honour.
The government was aware of it and the move should come from its side as recognitions were not earned by making appeals, she added. Director of Public Instructions Jeevan Babu told The Covai Post that the government had no practice of honouring any first female teacher and the like.
He said that he would look into the matter and find out if she was really eligible for recognition, if any, permitted by the government.