A 90-year-old Kenyan woman is proving you’re never too old to learn, by going back to primary school with six of her great-great-grandchildren.
Priscilla Sitienei is believed to be the oldest primary school student in the world, the BBC reported this week.
Determined to learn how to read and write after 65 years as a midwife in her rural village, Sitienei attends every class at the Leaders Vision Preparatory School in the Rift Valley. She participates in all areas —including math, dance, English and physical education-- wearing the same uniform as her classmates, who range from 10 to 14 years old.
Her age has not deterred her from her studies. "Too many older children are not in school. They even have children themselves," she told the BBC. "They tell me they are too old. I tell them, 'Well I am at school and so should you'," Sitienei told the BBC.
She also said she hopes to inspire the younger generation – including her own classmates, some of whom she delivered as babies—to appreciate their studies.
Known affectionately around the school as "Gogo"-- meaning grandmother in the local Kalenjin language— Sitienei grew up in Kenya when it was occupied by the British and lived through her country's struggle for independence. She never had the chance to go to school because her family didn't have enough money to send her to class.
She’s been enrolled in her school for the last five years and wants to be able to read the Bible, teach her midwifery skills, and write down the herbal remedies she uses in births.
School headmaster David Kinyanjui said his oldest student motivates the children. "I'm very proud of her," Kinyanjui said. "She is loved by every pupil, they all want to learn and play with her.”
Sitienei shares a dormitory with one of her great-great grandchildren, where she still delivers babies on weekends. She spends her free time telling stories to her classmates to ensure her knowledge of local customs are passed on.
Sitienei faced resistance when she first tried to enroll at the school but soon she proved how committed she was to learning. "She is doing well … considering her age I can say I have seen a big difference in this school since she came," Kinyanjui said.
"I want to say to the children of the world, especially girls, that education will be your wealth, don't look back and run to your father," Sitienei told the BBC. "With education you can be whatever you want, a doctor, lawyer or a pilot," she said.