November 18, 2022

World’s oldest primary school pupil, Priscilla Sitienei dies at 99 in Kenya

By Biodun Busari

A 99-year-old woman Priscilla Sitienei, believed to be the world’s oldest primary school pupil, has died at her residence in Kenya.

According to Sammy Chepsiror, her grandson, Sitienei began to develop health difficulties after attending class on Wednesday and died afterwards.

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“Gogo has been in good health and attending classes until three days to her demise when she developed chest pains, which forced her out of school,” Chepsiror said.

Sitienei, according to BBC, and her 12-year-old classmates were due to write their final examinations next week and have been preparing diligently before her death.

She grew up in Kenya engaged by British colonial administrators and lived through her country’s struggle for independence.

Reports revealed that Sitienei’s story has inspired a French film and tribute from the United Nations culture and education agency, UNESCO.

Last year, she told UNESCO that she wanted to encourage young mothers to return to school.

“I wanted to show an example not only to them but to other girls around the world who are not in school, without education, there will be no difference between you and a chicken,” she said.

She joined Leaders Vision Preparatory School in 2010, but also served her village of Ndalat in the Rift Valley as a midwife for more than 65 years.

She had even helped deliver some of her own classmates, who were then aged between 10 and 14.

Sitienei, profoundly called “Gogo” which means grandmother in the local Kalenjin language, told the BBC in 2015 that she was finally learning to read and write – an opportunity she missed as a child.