From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Mrs. Folashade Ajayi is a 50-year-old resident of Orelope Street, Odota Area, Ilorin, Kwara State, who went back to school at her age. She got admitted into Junior Secondary School (JSS), Ilorin Grammar School (IGS).
She spoke with The Education Report: “Before now, I love reading and acquiring formal education, which is one of my life ambitions. I like to go to school but I did not have the opportunity. That is why I enrolled at Agency for Mass Literacy where I obtained adult education certificate.
“I envy my friends when they write and speak good English, that’s why I return to school. It used to pain me when they spoke to me and I didn’t know what to say. When I see my mates write and speak English fluently, I said one day I will be like them. So I had to enroll in JSS class to be able to achieve my aim.
“Since I enrolled into the school, I am not shy sitting among children of my son’s age mates. In fact, they are sources of my encouragement because if I don’t read very well they are the ones that will correct me and read severally to me.
”As I resumed school, I became an object of ‘come and see’ for other students. At times they would come from other classes to watch me from the window. All the teachers in the school are helpful and good to me whenever I need their help. This made going back to school very interesting for me.
“Before I joined JSS class, I attended adult education class in 2017, though I have been nursing the ambition to have formal education. So, I decided to further my education and that is why I am in school.
”If I finish secondary school, I have the intention to attend higher institution because I have passion for formal education and I want to become a teacher. When I get the opportunity to attend higher institution, I will do so.
”Although age is not on my side but I pray God will help me because my children are living with me in Ilorin. I lost my husband long ago and I am from Iludun-Oro in Irepodun Local Government. Since the demise of my husband I have been taking care of the children alone with assistance from my church members.
“I am a tailor and I specialize in bag and purse making for special occasions. Now that I have decided to go back to school, it will definitely affect my business anytime I am in school. My shop is closed because no one is there to assist me.
”In fact, I love attending school, I find the environment very interesting. I get the attention I need in this place and my teachers are wonderful. They are good and have been encouraging me.”
The widow appealed to well meaning Nigerians and government at all levels to come to her aid to enable her continue her education and provide for her children.
Classmates, teachers react
Abdullahi Isa, 13, is in the same class with Ajayi. He said she is respectful: “Anytime young boys are fighting or quarreling, she will help to settle the issue and because of her age we will stop being troublesome.
”She has come down to our level age-wise. Any question she doesn’t understand, she will call any of us to help her solve it. The same thing in English, if she can’t pronounce a word correctly she will call us to help her out.”
Yusuf Idiat, another classmate, said since Ajayi joined the class, students are wondering why she enrolled in the school at her age: “She plays with girls in the class, tell them stories, offer them advice and urges them to face their studies.”
One of Ajayi’s teachers, Mrs. Busari Motunrayo, described her as a good example to the younger students: “She is quiet, gentle, respectful and a good mixer. She moves freely with her classmates and behaves like a mother to them.
”When she first came, she coould t read. Now she can write well and read even her spoken English has improved.”
Principal of the school, Mallam Abdulrahman Zubair Akeyede, said the woman was admitted into the school through one Ms Shagaya, who informed the officials of the Ministry of Education: “When she persisted, the permanent secretary had to inform the Secretary of Ilorin West Local Government, who ordered IGS to admit her because she wanted to continue her education and because the school is close to her house. Since Mrs. Ajayi was admitted, she behaves as a matured student.”