Remembering Savitribai Phule: India’s first woman teacher

Today marks the 187th birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule, India’s first woman teacher, a social reformer, poet, and educationist, who revolutionised woman education in the country.

03 Jan 2018 | By Rushikesh Aravkar

Savitribai Phule was born in Maharashtra's Naigaon. At the age of 9, in 1840, she was married to 13-year-old Jyotirao Phule, who taught her to read and write.    

She is considered to be one of the most prominent faces of the social reform movement in Maharashtra for her work against caste and gender-based discrimination in colonial India.

She set up the first school for girls from different castes in Bhidewada, Pune and became first woman teacher in the country. In her lifetime she built 18 such schools in the region.

Along with her husband Jyotirao Phule, she established a home for the prevention of infanticide for widows thrown out by their families after being sexually abused by other men.                 

Savitribai died of an infection while taking care of patients during the third global pandemic of the bubonic plague in 1897.

In 2014, the Maharashtra government in a tribute to Savitribai Phule renamed Pune University in her name.

Her mantra for education: Awake, arise and educate. 

PrintWeek India salutes Savitribai Phule on her 187th birth anniversary (3 January 1831 – 10 March 1897)

Go, Get Education

In 1854, she published a collection of her poems that emphasised the significance of education. A stanza from one of her legendary poems called Go, Get Education

Go, Get Education
Be self-reliant, be industrious
Work—gather wisdom and riches,
All gets lost without knowledge
We become animal without wisdom,
Sit idle no more, go, get education

Image Attribution: By Samreenshaikh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons