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It’s never too late to learn and share knowledge – the midwife opsimath

by on January 26, 2015

Earlier this month, the Independent featured this list of words that it suggested we should use more often. This included opsimath – which I confess I had never come across before – which means a person who studies late in life. So I mentally filed this away to use at an appropriate moment. And thanks to this article on the BBC website, that day has now arrived.

The BBC news item relates to a 90-year-old Kenyan woman who is believed to be the oldest primary school pupil in the world, attending classes with six of her great-great-grandchildren. It seems she missed out on formal education in her youth though this did not prevent her from serving her community in the Rift Valley as a midwife for the last 65 years. Her motivation to learn how to read and write was so that she could help pass on her midwifery skills and write down her knowledge of herbal medicines.

In fact, not only is Priscilla Sitienei a school pupil, she is an ‘older worker’ too. The article reports that she uses her Saturdays to see expectant mothers who still come to see her and has been known to assist in births in her dormitory, which she shares with one of her great-great-grandchildren. A sign on this dormitory says ‘Education has no age limit’. I agree!

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