Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - World’s oldest person’ dies at 132

A Georgian woman who claimed to be 132 years old - making her the world’s oldest human being - has died.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 9 October

World’s oldest person’ dies at 132

A Georgian woman who claimed to be 132 years old – making her the world’s oldest human being – has died.

Antisa Khvichava lived in the remote mountain village of Sachino, in north-west Georgia, with her 42-year-old grandson. Mrs Khvichava held Soviet-era documents which said she was born on 8 July 1880, though this was never proven.

Mrs Khvichava had 12 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren, and once told reporters her long life and good health could be attributed to drinking a small amount of brandy every day. She retired from her job as a tea and corn picker in 1985, aged 85.

Mrs Khivchava, who spoke only her local language, Mingrelian, lived through more than a century of history – taking in two world wars, the Russian Revolution, the sinking of the Titanic, The Beatles, 9/11 and the birth of the internet.

Speaking through a translator to mark her 130th birthday, Mrs Khivchava said:

“I've always been healthy, and I've worked all my life -- at home and at the farm.”

Like so many, her birth certificate was said to have been lost amid years of revolutions and civil wars that tore through Georgia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

While officials, neighbours and descendents have all supported her claim, experts have cast doubt over whether she was the world’s oldest person.

All documents stating Mrs Khivchava’s age were created long after she was born. A member of the Gerontology Research Group in California, Stephen Coles, said the claim is likely to “remain a curiosity in a newspaper or floating on the internet.”

The oldest known living person now is 116-year-old Besse Cooper, from the USA, who was born in Tennesse in 1896 – with supporting documents to verify her claims.

Before Mrs Cooper, the oldest person whose age was formally proven was French woman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 aged 122 years and 164 days. She said she had met the artist Vincent Van Gogh as a young woman.

Questions for discussion

  • If you could make a list of things to do or achieve in your lifetime, what would be on it?
  • Mrs Khivchava has lived through some memorable events in history. Has anything happened in your lifetime that you think you will always remember?
  • If you were to live to be over 100, the world would be a very different place. What do you think it would be like?

Related resources

My Family Remembers

  • A colourful selection of worksheets looking at history through the memories of family members.

Russian Revolution: 1904 - 1924

  • A set of super lesson plans and resources on the history of the Russian Revolution.

Healthy Living

  • Recommended PowerPoint tips for living a healthy life – suitable for Key Stage 1.

Challenging Stereotypes

  • A great discussion starter which encourages pupils to consider – and to challenge – stereotypes, including old age and disability.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

A choir of un- and under-employed 18-24-year-olds have raised their voices in protest and song outside the Houses of Parliament to raise awareness of youth unemployment.

What came first: the disco dress or the discotheque? This is just one in a series of linguistic questions that editors at the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) are asking the public to answer.

Fears have been raised that bilingual pupils will lose out on much needed support in English after scoring highly in the new phonics test – despite historically doing poorly later in primary school.

The government’s new women’s minister has called for a reduction in the legal time limit for abortions to reflect changes in medical science.

In the news archive index