Shade Ajayi renews hope
OpenLife Nigeria reports that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007 and a confirmed presidential aspirant in the 2023 general elections, has seen light at the end of the dark educational tunnel in Nigeria.
Atiku’s inspiration is gleaned from the determined efforts of Shade Ajayi to get education at the age of 50.
Shade Ajayi had never set foot in a classroom until middle age. Now 50, the businesswoman is happily learning to read and write alongside students nearly four decades younger than her.
Donning the pink dress and bonnet that make up her uniform, she joins hundreds of similarly dressed pupils at a school in Ilorin, in Nigeria’s western Kwara state.
“I’m not ashamed that I wear a uniform,” she said.
As a child, she worked in her aunt’s shop instead of attending school. She now runs her own business making and selling purses and bags, but believes her inability to read or write is holding her back.
Ajayi signed up to attend school in the last academic year, only for it to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. But schools reopened in January and Ajayi finally got her chance.
Shade Ajayi attend class sitting in a wooden desk, surrounded by pupils aged 11 to 13. She has penchant at raising her hand to answer questions.
Ajayi’s teacher, Nasrat Busari, said the mature student appeared completely undeterred by the age gap.
“She has been coping well with them: playing together, talking together and discussing things together,” he said.
Reacting, Atiku, a renowned investor in education remarked on his facebook wall
“We all have lessons to learn from inspirational Shade Ajayi, 50, the oldest student at Ilorin Grammar School, Ilorin, Kwara State. She is reminding us that it is never too late to get an education.
“Education is the key that will unlock Nigeria’s latent huge potentials. When we get education right, we will get Nigeria right. Like I had suggested in the past, the Federal, States, and Local Governments should consider a policy of allocating at least 10% of the total budget appropriations to the education sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, the daughter of Shade Ajayi, Shola Adeboye, said she was initially embarrassed that her mother attended school alongside children, but later came around.
“She has always wanted to be educated but she couldn’t,” Adeboye said sympathetically.
Shade Ajayi still makes bags and purses after finishing classes at 4pm, and an apprentice serves her customers during school hours.
She intends to continue her education for four more years, saying it will help her business.
“People around me can read and write and they are succeeding in their businesses,” said Shade Ajayi.