A 90-year-old Kenyan woman who goes to class with six of her great-great-grandchildren is believed to be the oldest primary school pupil in the world right now. Sitting at the front of class four in her school uniform, Priscilla Sitienei listens intently while she writes the English names of animals in her notebook. She joined Leaders Vision Preparatory School five years ago and has also served her village of Ndalat in the Rift Valley as a midwife for the last 65 years.
In fact, she has helped deliver some of her own classmates, who are aged between 10 and 14. “I want to say to the children of the world, especially girls, that education will be your wealth.”
Priscilla “Gogo” Sitienei affectionately known as “Gogo”, which means grandmother in the local Kalenjin language, she says at 90 she is finally learning to read and write – an opportunity she never had as a child.
More comfortable speaking in Kalenjin than English, she explains why she wanted to return to school. “I’d like to be able to read the Bible; I also want to inspire children to get an education. “Too many older children are not in school. They even have children themselves.” Gogo says she confronts children who are not in school and asks them why. “They tell me they are too old,” she says, “I tell them, ‘Well I am at school and so should you.’ “I see children who are lost, children who are without fathers, just going round and round, hopeless. I want to inspire them to go to school.”