Smt. Mandakini Tongaonkar
Smt. Mandakini Tongaonkar was a veteran teacher and a revered person, was motherly to all who came in her contact, in fact she was called ‘Aai’ (mother) by all around her. She was honored by ‘Adarsh Mata Puraskar’ (Ideal mother Award) by two eminent institutions.
She was a living example how girls and women should keep on learning in their life time and stand on her feet. She was married when she was just 13 years old and had passed only her vernacular final exam (7th standard). But her husband Shri (Annasaheb) Rangnath Tongaonkar, a freedom fighter, an educationist and a great reformer, wanted her to study more and be self-supporting because there were chances he could have been jailed any time in the Freedom movement.
Therefore, after her marriage she joined Kamalabai Girls High School at Dhule. But before she could pass her Matriculation she gave birth to her son and left the school. But after 4 years, on insistence of her husband, she again went to the famous ‘Hingane Stree Shikshan Sanstha, Pune with a special permission to stay there with her son from the great founder of that institution ‘Maharshee Karve’.
There she completed her Matriculation (S.S.C.) and primary training course and later joined a Hindi School at Dondaicha as a teacher. To master her Hindi language she started giving examinations in that subject as an external student continuing her service as a teacher. She passed all the following exams one by one-- ‘Sahitya Visharad, Kovid, Pandit and All India Hindi Parangat (Equivalent to M.A.) and Shikashak-sanad.
As this was not enough, she continued her quest for knowledge. She joined S.N.D.T University at Pune and got her B.A. degree at the age of 38 and her B.Ed. at the age of 40 (when her son was studying in Medical College). Later she went to Nagpur to complete her M.A. when she was 43. She was the first teacher having M.A.; B.Ed. qualification in Dondaicha. She resigned as the Headmistress from her School to work in her son’s hospital as ‘Administrator’ where she became mother to all the patients. Her example should be followed by all the students specially the girls to learn throughout the life, be self-supporting and at the same time, serve the people.