GOOD NEWS
01/27/2015 09:02 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

90-Year-Old Kenyan Woman Goes To School, Learns To Read And Write Alongside Great-Great-Grandkids

A 90-year-old woman is going to school to learn skills that she never had the opportunity to acquire when she was younger.

Priscilla Sitienei has been attending Leaders Vision Preparatory School in her village of Ndalat, Kenya, for the past five years according to BBC News. Sitienei didn't have the chance to learn how to read and write, but is finally doing so now.

The 90-year-old, who goes to school with six of great-great-grandchildren, says she has some big goals.

"I'd like to be able to read the Bible," Sitienei, whose classmates are between the ages of 11 and 14, told BBC News. "I also want to inspire children to get an education."

Sitienei's school day is just like any other student's at the prep school, BBC News reported. She wears the school uniform to classes, and takes math, English, physical education, dance, drama and singing. She also lives in one of the campus dormitories, where she rooms with one of her great-great-grandchildren.

Her commitment to learning has made her a role model for the students.

"Gogo has been a blessing to this school, she has been a motivator to all the pupils," David Kinyanjui, the school's principal, told BBC News, using Sitinei's nickname which means "grandmother" in the local Kalenjin language. "She is loved by every pupil, they all want to learn and play with her."

The 90-year-old, who served as a midwife in her village for several decades, wants her story to spur others to take another chance at getting an education.

"Too many older children are not in school. They even have children themselves. They tell me they are too old," she told BBC. "I tell them, 'Well I am at school and so should you.'"

Sitinei's passion for learning is shared by Charlotte Butler of Naugatuck, Connecticut, who began pursuing a Post University college degree in 2013 at the age of 80, according to the University's website. The 80-year-old, who set out to attain her Bachelor of Science in human services, wished to set an example for her sons, helping them understand the importance of education.

Allen Fleming also decided to complete his degree later in life,
attaining his Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Georgia in August of last year, at the age of 88, KiroTV.com reported. The World War II veteran attended several universities while in the service but didn't have the chance to finish his schooling. Getting his diploma had always been a lifelong dream of his. Now, with a degree in English literature and a minor in journalism, Fleming hopes to inspire younger generations to pursue higher education.

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BEFORE YOU GO

  • Alexander Imich, Age 111
    Alexander Imich <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/09/us-usa-oldestman-idUSKBN0DP1K120140509" target="_blank">at
    Michael Mannion/AP
    Alexander Imich attributed the long length of his life to good genes and a healthy lifestyle, having quit smoking and drinking long ago.

    Imich is just one of several Americans who have been recognized as the oldest people in the world. However, the U.S. is not known for having the oldest population in the world in general. According to a 2011 study by Euromonitor, all of the countries with the oldest populations are situated in Europe, with the exception of Japan. The United States, however, might soon join its European and Japanese counterparts, as the Administration of Aging expects the percentage of Americans older than 65 to reach 19 percent by 2030.
  • Jeanne Calment, Age 122
    The <a href="http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-5000/oldest-person/" target="_blank">oldest person</a> ever recorded
    Georges Gobet/POOL/AP
    The oldest person ever recorded was French citizen Jeanne Louise Calment, who reached a whopping age of 122 years and 164 days. Born in 1875, Calment witnessed both the technological innovations and the destructive wars of the 20th century before passing away in 1997 in her hometown of Arles, France.

    Despite having been the home of the oldest person in the world, France, just like the U.S., is not known as one of the countries with the world's oldest population. According to the United Nations, the French elderly population grew from 7 percent to 14 percent in 115 years. In contrast, it will only take developing nations China and Brazil twenty-something years to experience the same change in demographics.
  • Jiroemon Kimura, Age 116
    When Jiroeman Kimura died in June 2012 at the age of 116, he had been the oldest man for <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/ne
    AP
    When Jiroeman Kimura died in June 2012 at the age of 116, he had been the oldest man for just around six months.

    Japan is accustomed to a large elderly community. In January 2011, more than a fifth of Japanese were older than 65 and the average life expectancy stood at 83.1 years. Yet Japan's long lifecycle will likely create headaches for its lawmakers, who face the world's second-largest public debt and a below-replacement birthrate, making it difficult to continue handing out generous pension plans to a retiring workforce.
  • Emma Morano, Age 114
    At age 114, Italian Emma Morano is the oldest person currently living in the European continent. Globally, she is the fifth oldest person, trailing behind Japanese Misao Okawa, and three American women, Jeralean Talley, Susannah Mushatt Jones and Bernice Madigan. Morano says a good night's sleep has contributed to her long life: She goes to bed before 7 p.m. and wakes before 6 a.m. She also eats one raw egg per day.

    Italy was recently ranked fourth in its percentage of citizens that are over 65 years old. Like Japan and other nations whose populations are aging, the Mediterranean country faces the challenges that come with a declining workforce. According to CNBC, the Italian population aged 0-14 hasn't grown since 1999, exacerbating the fact that only 37.4 percent of 55-64 year olds still work.
  • Maria Esther de Capovilla, Age 116
    When Ecuadorean Maria Capovilla died in 2006 at the age of 116, she was <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2006/aug/29/loca
    Victor Proanio/AP
    When Ecuadorean Maria Capovilla died in 2006 at the age of 116, she was recognized as the oldest woman to have lived in Latin America and in a developing nation. Capovilla's daughter told the Los Angeles Times that her mother "always had a very tranquil character...She does not get upset by anything. She has been that way her whole life."

    Capovilla's impressive lifespan highlights the growing concern of other Latin American countries -- particularly Brazil, Mexico, and Chile -- whose aging populations will put burdens on government finances. A report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates that "the number of elderly in Latin America will triple as a share of the population by 2050," resulting in a "dramatic slowdown in population growth." Another concern for the continent is that while life expectancy has increased, living standards in many Latin American countries have stagnated. CSIS warns that "while the United States, Europe, and Japan all became affluent societies before they became aging societies, Latin America may grow old before it grows rich."
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