Never too old to learn the three Rs

He sat in a classroom next to children who could have been his great-grandchildren, living proof that it is never too late to learn.

Mohammud Modibbo, thought to be the oldest school pupil in Nigeria, died earlier this month. His family say he was 94.

Modibbo did not attend school as a boy because his work as a petty trader required regular movement around the country. But he signed up for primary school in his mid-80s, passed the common entrance exam and had recently joined a secondary school in the northern city of Kano.

His teacher, Abdulkarim Ibrahim, described Modibbo as “easy-going and jovial” and said he had dreamed of going to university.

He said: “During classes, he was very attentive and asked questions when he didn’t understand – either asking the teacher or a student sitting beside him.”

Modibbo is not alone: this year it was reported that Priscilla Sitienei, a great-great-grandmother and former midwife in Kenya, had enrolled in primary school at the age of 90.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists fellow Kenyan Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge as the oldest person ever to have begun primary school. He was 84 and died five years later.

Maruge was a Mau Mau fighter in the war of independence against the British. When the Kenyan government announced free primary education for all in 2002, he went to his local school in Eldoret and demanded to be taught to read. His story was turned into a film, The First Grader. – © Guardian News & Media 2015

Suzan Chala
Suzan Chala works from Jhb, Gauteng, SA. Editor of Sowetan Education, MSK and Matric Q&A. Former journalist: M&G. Love life and all its ups and downs

Unfinished business: We need self-examination to heal from apartheid

Physical and psychological violence will continue unless we self-reflect on our apartheid scars

Coronavirus: South Africa will evacuate citizens from Wuhan

The government is expected to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak originated

Primedia CEO Essack leaves following internal battles

Omar Essack leaves the 702 and 94.7 owners after a protracted standoff with the board

‘We’re satisfied with SA’s land reform policy’— US Ambassador

Top US official is lobbying multinational firms to invest in South Africa

Press Releases

Over R400-m given to businesses since launch of three-minute overdraft

The 3-minute overdraft radically reduces the time it takes for businesses to have their working capital needs met

Tourism can push Africa onto a new path – minister

The continent is fast becoming a dynamic sought-after tourist destination

South Africa’s education system is broken and unequal, and must be fixed without further delay

The Amnesty International report found that the South African government continues to miss its own education upgrading targets

Business travel industry generates billions

Meetings Africa is ready to take advantage of this lucrative opportunity

Conferences connect people to ideas

The World Expo and Meetings Africa are all about stimulating innovation – and income

SAB Zenzele Kabili B-BBEE share scheme

New scheme to be launched following the biggest B-BBEE FMCG payout in South Africa’s history

Digging deep

Automation is unstoppable, but if we're strategic about its implementation, it presents major opportunities

TFSAs are the gymnasts of the retirement savings world

The idea is to get South Africans to save, but it's best to do your research first to find out if a TFSA is really suited to your needs