The search for knowledge never ends. Even age is never an issue.
Soroti- Most people in their 70s and onwards have retired from the daily slog of work and live a less active life. Not Joyce Atim, an 80-year-old resident of Opiro village, Soroti Sub-county, Soroti District.
Atim believes age is just a number and has enrolled for Primary One at Moruapesur Primary School with classmates fit to be her great-grandchildren to attain education.
Clad in her blue uniform, the mother of three daughters and seven grandchildren says she is unfortunate not to have attended school when she was younger.
“I have had rough moments in life. I have been conned of my little money because of illiteracy,” Atim says.
Her children too never attained substantial education.
“After my husband died decades ago, no one took over the initiative to take them to school. Perhaps if they had, they would have enrolled me in school some years ago,” Atim says.
Asked what she hopes to achieve, Atim says she wants to learn how to read the Bible and write.
Now, three weeks into her first term, the determined Atim can proudly recite the first 10 alphabetical letters. Her aim is to be able to recite all of them by the end of the first month.
“I hope that by the time I go to P3, I will have learnt how to read my Bible perfectly. I’m determined to complete Primary Seven then enroll for secondary,” she says.
The elderly woman is referred to as Tata (grandmother) by her fellow pupils. But she still maintains a humble life. She says she consults classmates and pupils in upper classes to help her learn the alphabet and how to write in Roman numerals.
After class, Atim returns home, eight kilometres from school, to water her goats and make mats from which she earns a living.
Jennifer Adongo, 40, Atim’s daughter, says she was shocked when she heard that her mother had enrolled in Primary One, although she had often told her of her wish to study.
“Surprisingly, before we could buy for her scholastic materials, she had already purchased them after selling off her goat, on being admitted,” Adongo says.
She adds that the family is now planning to rent a house with electricity for her that is closer to the school so that she can study at night.
According to her head teacher, Mr John Achetu, he thought Atim was joking when she approached him for a placement prior to the beginning of the term.
He only believed her when he saw her on the first day of the term fully dressed in uniform.
Achetu says they have made her the classroom monitor because she is eager to learn. Her class teacher Ben Achom Okalany praises her too, saying Atim is a good pupil, submissive and advises young pupils on the value of education.