After a career spanning decades, educationist V Koteswaramma, who founded the Montessori Group of Educational Institutions in Vijayawada, passed away on Sunday morning in Andhra Pradesh. The 93-year-old had been suffering from health issues for some time. Her family said that her last rites would be performed on Tuesday.
Born in 1925 in Gosala, a village in Krishna district, Koteswaramma had the distinction of being the first woman graduate in Vijayawada taluka, back in 1945. She later went on to get a degree from Andhra Christian College in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh.
Despite facing many hurdles as a first-generation woman trying to get an education, Koteswaramma was known for her determination and grit. From a young age, she was also determined to educate girls and women as she established her first school with 20 children - all girls - in 1955. The school would eventually grow into the Montessori group, which now caters to students from kindergarten to post graduation.
Throughout her life, Koteswaramma advocated the education of young girls and the empowerment of women. She was also an activist and communist leader, who had participated in India's freedom struggle and had also gone underground during the peasant agitations around the time of Independence.
A Telugu Sahitya Akademi winner, she also penned several books, essays and poems which included Amma Cheppina Aidu Geyalu, Ashru Sameekshanam, Sanghamitra Kathalu and her autobiography Nirjana Vaaradhi (2012).
She was given a 'Best Teacher' national award in 1971 and in 2017, she was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in India, in the â€˜Education and Literatureâ€™ category.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu and writer and Padma Bhushan winner Yarlagadda Lakshmi Prasad were among those who expressed their condolences to Koteswaramma's family.