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Kenyan woman is oldest elementary school student

Written by on Thursday, March 26, 2015
Kenyan woman is oldest elementary school student

Priscilla Sitienei is a Kenyan woman in her 90s who enrolled in kindergarten five years ago. Now she's in the same fourth grade class as several of her great-grandchildren, inspiring the boys and girls who study alongside her to take advantage of their education - a privilege she didn't have as a child. 

Sitienei says she isn't sure exactly what year she was born because the hospital didn't keep birth records - but she believes she was born around 1923, which would put her at 92 years old. At that time, the country was under colonial rule, and educating girls wasn't a priority.

"I could not go to school even if I wanted," she said to CNN. "In my time, educating a woman was considered a waste of time and money."

The inspiring senior worked as a midwife her whole life, got married at a young age and had 10 children. Now she says that thanks to math class she knows how much medicine to give the women she helps. Math is her favorite class, but she also studies other subjects, like science and even physical education.

She says she returned to school after noticing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren shunning their schooling. She wanted to prove education was important, and she now gives the boys and girls in her classes advice and tells them stories. They affectionately call her "Gogo," which means grandmother in the language of her native tribe, and they even try to compete with her for who can get the highest grade.

"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," she said, according to BBC News. "With education you can be whatever you want, a doctor, lawyer or a pilot."

Seniors and education
Sitenei's retirement lifestyle is inspiring and touching, and although most seniors don't need to return to elementary school to get an education, many have found great joy in taking college classes during their active retirement.

Returning to college has some amazing benefits for seniors, not the least of which is learning about any number of different subjects. It's also a great way to make friends and socialize, and it can even benefit seniors' mental and physical health. Learning new subjects can keep the mind sharp and studies have found that socializing can benefit the immune system, blood pressure and more. Either way, education plays an important role in the lives of everyone, young or old.

Filed Under: retirement lifestyle   active retirement  

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