HomeEducationSecond chance – VELOXNEWS

Second chance – VELOXNEWS

From Felix Ikem, Nsukka

Call her another Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge a legendary Kenyan who started primary school at the age of 88, you may not be entirely wrong. But for Mr. Ugwoke Oloto, a retired soldier from Ibagwa-Ani in Nsukka Local Government, Enugu State, there is no age limit in academic success. For him, motherhood is also never a barrier to further one’s education.

Ugwoke stunned residents of Nsukka when in 2018 he sent his wife, Chioma, back to secondary school after drawing the curtain on childbearing. He did the same earlier. After a career in the Nigerian Army, he returned to school. He is currently undertaking his Doctorate degree programme at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

His wife has completed the May/June 2022 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), thereby completing her secondary education. He posted on his Facebook: “On September 24, 2018, I posted the picture of my wife returning from her new school, St Andrew’s Secondary School, Ibagwa-Ani, Nsukka LGA, where she resumed academic pursuit aftaer we had our last child. She resumed in JSS3.

“Encouraged by the overwhelming responses from the public, she braved all odds and burned the midnight oil until today, June 22, 2022 when she wrote her last paper, Government, in the school examination.

“We ask for your continued support and prayers as we await her results.  She says she wants to study Law. We believe she can do it.”

Education Report took a journey to Ibagwa-Ani, an agrarian community, where Ugwoke lives with his wife and four children. The oldest is 15 years old while the youngest is seven years old.

Ugwoke said: “I got married to her in 2005, then she had actually finished her secondary school in her maiden place in Unadu, Igbo-Eze South LGA, Enugu State. From 2005 to 2018, we were busy doing other things (bearing children) in Lagos where I was serving in the Nigerian Army. She obtained four credits in her first WASSCE and only failed Mathematics. When we made the decision for her to return to school, we were faced with two options.  Either to let her write November/December WASSCE to make up or to start school in a polytechnic.

“At the end of the day we said no because 2005 and that period  (2018) had been a very long time, a lot of water passed under the bridge since then. We decided that it would be better for her to have a fresh acquisition of knowledge by going far back to Junior Secondary School (JSS3). 

“People were saying why not Senior Secondary School (SSS3) or SSS2. I said no, since we don’t have any reason to hurry about, we have finished childbearing. We are not rushing her to finish school and start applying for jobs or making money. God has given us money. We want her to acquire more knowledge, so that she can add more value to herself, family and the society. 

“My plan is that she will reach to university level, do her master’s degree, as well as her doctorate degree. But to do that she has to start from the scratch and luckily she didn’t object.

“I don’t have any limitation as to where I want her to stop. Already I have assured her that I will train and sponsor her education to any level as long as I am alive.”

“God has been kind and merciful to me and my family. The little money I saved from the Nigerian Army has been sustaining us. Again, I am a into poultry farming, a writer, I have written two books, namely; ‘Death Hunters’ and ‘June 12.’ The ‘Death Hunters’ sold over 2,000 copies; ‘June 12’ is also selling. 

“I am also into politics and farming, as well a teacher. I am my wife’s teacher. I teach her and others English Language and Literature in her school.

“We carry out our domestic duties jointly. We don’t leave anything for each other. Sometimes I will be the one to bathe the children in the morning while she will be preparing for their breakfast and other things. The thing has become parts of us.

“I have been a lucky man to have a woman like her as a wife. Believe me it is not every woman that you will ask to go back to school after childbearing and she will be willing to do that. My wife is well cultured, sound and free minded. She’s a blessing to me. 

“Since 17 years I got married to her, we do quarrel but we never invited any third party to come and settle our differences. God used her to complete and decorate my life. If I am to come back to this world again my wish would be to have her again as my wife because she is very supportive.”

Love for education

“When I was young I was a troublemaker. I hated going to school. Sometime they would send some students to carry me to school. In the 70s, if you were in school, your teacher would send your classmates to bundle you to school. I was truant in my primary and secondary school days. 

“But in spite of that I’ve never taken above third or fourth position during my primary and secondary school days. It is a gift from God, so all this is because of my passion for education and I want to see it to fruition.”

Mrs Ugwoke speaks:

“It was out of my quest and desire to acquire more knowledge that I went back to JSS3 in 2018 at St Andrew’s Secondary School, Ibagwa-Ani, Nsukka LGA, Enugu State. 

“ I was 19 years old when i got married to my husband in 2005, by then, I had finished my secondary school education. I wrote my first WASSCE in 2002. I got four credits without Mathematics.  

“I joined him in Lagos where he was serving in the Nigerian Army.  Immediately God blessed us with the fruit of womb and I started bearing children. Under 12 years of marriage I had five, but unfortunately we lost one, so I have four children now.

“My husband had promised me even before he paid my bride price that he would train me to any level I would want to attain in education. He assured me that childbearing would not be an impediment.

Her journey back to JSS3

“It was a unanimous decision between my husband and I to start all over from JSS3. Fortunately for me the school is just a stone throw from our house. The environment was not all that strange. I knew most of the teachers and some students. 

“But I was a little bit shy the first week I was admitted and introduced to my class. Almost all the students in the school were coming to my class to see that woman in school uniform with them. Some were even laughing at me. 

“One of the teachers called me and advised me to see myself as a student and never feel shy being in the same class with students young enough to be my children. The teacher said I should not be distracted the way people and some students were looking at me.

“It was easy for me to adapt with my classmates and other students. My relationship with the teachers was cordial. It was great and wonderful opportunity for me, it was all positive vibes. I enjoyed the four years I spent as a secondary school student. It ignited the passion in me to read and study hard. 

“I made sure I kept to the rules and regulations of the school. I did my assignments and attended school regularly and on time.

To the glory of God I just finished writing my WASSCE and waiting to write the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) by the National Examinations Council (NECO).

What next?

“I have made up my mind to study Law in the university and my husband has given me the green light. From my childhood I admire lawyers each time I see them, I love their dressing code. Besides, I want to defend the defenseless in the society especially children and women.”

She described her husband as the best thing that happened in her life: “Having him as my husband is the best thing ever to have happened to me. He is compassionate, caring understanding, loving and a promise keeping husband.”

Her first daughter, Chinemerem, who also wrote the May/June 2022 WASSCE at St.Cyprian’s Special Science School, Nsukka, the same time with her mother, said: “Everybody around us knows that my dad does not joke with education. I am not surprised at his decision to send my mother back to school. He too is currently doing his doctorate degree that is to show you how passionate he is about education.

“Seeing my mother in a school uniform, well, it sounds funny, it looks funny but I’m still I’m not surprised I know she’s a determined person. In fact that has even brought a healthy competition between us her children and her. At the end of every academic term, we would bring our results to see who did better than others.”

Asked who is more brilliant between her and her mum, the 15-year-old answered: “Me of course, even though I’m a boarding student and a science student as well. I think I have time to study better than her because a time you will see her going to market, farm and doing other thing after school hours. But for me I read in the morning in the afternoon and also in the night that is why I have advantage over her.”

Classmates share their experiences 

Ayogu Chinasa said: “She is not a total stranger to the school because her husband was our teacher, before then we used to see her around the school. But we were nervous the first day she was introduced to our class in her school uniform. 

“In fact, we received her with mixed feelings because she’s not our mates in terms of age and some of her kids are also our age grades. But at the end of the day the whole thing turned out to be a blessing to our set because her presence added more value to our class. She was a role model to all of us and was accessible and easy going person.”

Asogwa Chidera: “Initially we were confused about her presence in our class knowing that she’s a wife of one of our teachers. Her joining us then did not go down well with us. But along the line we realised that she’s here for a serious business.

“Her boldness, commitment to learning and studying became a serious challenge to some of us. We were like, if a mother can be so committed to her studies like this then it means that we have to up our game to be in the same pedestal with her.”

Eze Harrison: “Initially it was like a drama to us having her as our classmate given her age and marital status. It was difficult for us especially the male students (because the school is a boys and girls school) to get along with her. Her presence remodeled our class. We no longer played carelessly in the class, made unnecessary noise or joked anyhow especially when she’s in the class.

“After sometimes we realised that she’s a role model that we have to emulate. The changes she brought in our class are positive and good for our development. It was a wonderful opportunity and experience to have her as a classmate.”

 Principal of the school, Ibagwa-Ani, Mr. Anthony Onu, said: «Our school is a regular school, but for us, there is no barrier to education because anybody who has the desire to acquire education can do it at any level. 

“When she came, she showed determination, even though she’s a mother, she continued and she did very well. She was very punctual and always the first to come to school. All the assignments given to her by the teachers, she was always the first to finish and pass her own.

“She showed hunger, desire and interest to acquire more knowledge, while and class she is very obedient and abide by the rules and regulation of the school. She took part in manual labour, sports and other social activities in the school.”

She was doing them with enthusiasm. No teacher has ever reported her for disobedient there is humility in her that is where her strength lies. I am optimistic that she will excel in her final examination and proceeded to higher institution.

“She is now our reference point for other women, even men who think that because of their marital status or their age. It is too late for them to get back to primary or secondary school to acquire education. As long as we are alive we should be learning everyday. Education is key to success, it is only at death that one stops learning.”

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