Andhra Pradesh Govt Fetes India’s First Muslim Woman Teacher Fatima Sheikh

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The state government has introduced a lesson on Fatima Sheikh’s contributions in Class VIII textbooks. She, along with the social reformer Phule couple, Fatima Sheikh started the first all-girl school at her house. She taught at all the five schools run by Phule and founded two schools of her own in Mumbai in 1851

Syed Ali Mujtaba l Clarion India

Fatima Sheikh, India’s first woman teacher is now being recognised by the Andhra Pradesh government which has introduced a lesson on her contributions in Class VIII textbooks. Earlier, the Maharashtra government had also introduced a brief lesson on Fatima Sheikh to its school curriculum.

Born on January 9, 1831, Fatima Sheikh is known to have given shelter to Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule in 1848 at her residence in Poona. The well-known social reformer couple was campaigning against caste system and was disowned by their families.

It was Fatima Sheikh who gave the Phule couple a place to reside in her house. Sheikh did her teacher’s training programme along with Savitribai Phule at an institute run by Cynthia Farrar, an American missionary.

After that, along with the Phule couple, she started the first all-girl school at her house. Fatima taught at all the five schools run by Phule and founded two schools of her own in Mumbai in 1851.

“We are very happy that a lesson is introduced in Class VIII textbook about Fatima Sheikh. More awareness is required of her contribution to society,” said Kaki Prakash Rao, general secretary of the AP Primary Teachers’ Association.

D Ramu, AP United Teachers’ Federation leader hailed the initiative of the AP Government and said, “At a time when moving out of home was considered a sin for women, Fatima Sheikh, along with Savitri Bai Phule, was instrumental in teaching Dalit and Muslim girls amid threats and intimidation from the society.”

It may be recalled here that Google recently honoured Fatima Sheikh with a Doodle on its homepage in connection with her 191st birth anniversary.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com

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