A 50-year-old widow in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mrs Folashade Ajayi, recently caused a stir after enrolling as a Junior Secondary School 2 student at the Ilorin Grammar School. In this interview with TUNDE OYEKOLA, Ajayi explains the motive behind her move
What is your name?
My name is Folashade Ajayi. I am from Iludun-Oro in the Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State. I live at Orelope Street, Odota Area, Ilorin.
Why did you decide to go to school at this age?
I have always loved to go to school but I did not have the opportunity (when I was young). Because of my love for education, I had earlier enrolled at the Government Agency for Mass Literacy where I obtained a certificate in adult education. I attended adult education class in 2017. Then, I decided to further and that is why I am here today. I took the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination at Government High School, Adeta, Ilorin in 2017. I passed the examination and I was offered a Primary School Leaving Certificate.
Where did you attend the adult education class?
I attended the adult education class at Tailor’s Hall in Oko-Erin here in Ilorin.
What do you want to achieve by enrolling in school at your age?
I have earlier told you that I love education; I want to be educated and acquire knowledge. I want to be able to express myself by speaking English fluently like other people.
Why did you choose Ilorin Grammar School?
When I went to the Ministry of Education to tell them that I wanted to go to school, after considering my request, they asked me where I live and I told them that I am resident at Odota area. They said the school close to my area is Ilorin Grammar School. They then directed the Principal of the school to admit me. So, the choice of school was made based on where I live to make going to school convenient for me, because they don’t want me to labour so much to get to school.
You were enrolled in JSS2; do you think you can cope in that class when you have not been through JSS1?
The teachers in the adult education class taught us JSS1 subjects and we have been reading the books for JSS2 class in the adult education school. But I decided to come to school to have formal education because I like the school environment.
After completing secondary school, do you have the ambition of going further to a higher institution such as university?
After finishing secondary school, I still have an intention to go to a higher institution because I have passion for formal education. Given the opportunity, I will go to a higher institution but that depends on the will of God.
Are you hoping to secure a job with your certificate when you finish school?
I don’t have the intention of acquiring the certificate to work. My ambition is to go to school because I love being in school. It has been my ambition since I was young to go to school but there was no opportunity then.
Do you have siblings and are they educated?
Yes, I have siblings. Some went to school why others did not. I am one of those that did not have the opportunity to go to school.
How did your husband react to your decision to enrol in school?
My husband died some years ago. I live with my children in Ilorin.
How many children do you have and are they in school?
I have four children. Some have taken the WASSCE (West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination) and NECO.
Do you plan to send your children to university?
Yes, if it is the wish of God and if I have the resources. I desire that they go to tertiary institutions.
What work do you do?
I am a bag maker. I sew handbags for the people and those who have ceremonies patronise me to make customised bags for them which they give to their guests as gifts.
Now that you have enrolled in school, how do you intend to combine school with your business?
School will definitely affect my business because I will have to close my shop whenever I am in school.
What about your children, who looks after them while you are in school?
Some of my church members are helping me.
How do you find the school environment?
I find the school environment very interesting and lively because I’m getting what I need in this place.
How are you coping with the class work?
God is helping me.
Is it not tedious?
It is tedious but I am coping with it and God is helping me.
You are way older than all the students in this school. How are they relating with you?
The students have been very friendly and they have been helping me. Some of them have lent me their notes to copy the previous work they had done before my arrival in the school.
Are they not troubling you?
No, they are not because the Principal has talked to them.
Are you getting along with the teachers?
My teachers are very wonderful. They are very good and they are encouraging me.
Do you need any assistance from government or wealthy individuals so that you will be able to take care of your children properly and continue with your education?
Yes, I need assistance. Anybody that is blessed should come to my aid so that I can continue with my education and also take good care of my children and finance their education. I want them to go to the higher institution but as of now, I don’t have the resources to sponsor them.