A 61-year-old grandmother, Helen Odeba, who caused stir online for going back to High School, in an interview with PUNCH’s Gbenga Adeniji, has said that she made the decision even after 9 children and 7 grandchildren, because she wanted to “learn new things”.
Odeba said she also wanted to use her education for her business as she plans to open a shop after completing her High School education.
Read excerpts of the interview below:
Which state are you from?
I am from Kogi State.
How many children do you have?
I have nine children; four girls and five boys. Some of them have married. I have seven grandchildren.
Did any of your children go to higher institution?
Yes, some of them did. My eldest son and one of my female children studied at the Kaduna Polytechnic. They obtained diplomas there. One of my sons is a corps member. He studied at the Kogi State University. Another female child is currently at the Plateau State Polytechnic.
Have you ever attended any school?
Yes, I finished primary education before I got married. When I got married, I stopped my education but I always wanted to return to school.
What have you been doing since you got married?
I have been a housewife.
Why did you decide to return to secondary school at your age?
I want to learn new things. I miss my years in primary school as a child when I learnt many things. I felt that I could learn more now that I have given birth to children. I am now able to concentrate on the future. This made me enroll at the Government Secondary School, Gonin Gora, Kaduna State. I started from the junior class.
What class are you?
I am in senior secondary two; commercial class.
Did your husband and children support your decision to return to school?
They did when I told them it was what I desired to do.
How do you relate with your classmates?
We relate well. We joke, chat and study together. I have a seat mate, Justina, who I disturb a lot to explain topics that I do not understand to me.
Which subjects do you like most?
I like Mathematics and English. I always perform better in the two subjects than I do in others.
How do you feel learning with younger classmates?
I always feel happy. It is fun learning with them. There is no shame since I know why I returned to school.
How do you combine taking care of your home and studying?
I try to plan everything well. I cook and take care of the home on time. I also find time to read what I learn in school daily. There is no day I do not revise what I was taught in school.
What do you intend to do with the secondary school result?
I want to open a shop after I finish with secondary school. I will know how to calculate money, talk to customers and give them their change.
Do you intend to go to university after your secondary education?
I am not sure that I want to do that.
What do your friends tell you?
Many of them do not support me. They keep telling me that I am wasting my time going to school at my age. I do not think I am wasting my time. I think I am doing what is right because no one is too old to learn. I wish they could join me to learn.
How do your classmates address you?
Everyone in the school calls me, ‘mama’ including my teacher. I only smile because I know it is a way of showing me respect. I respect all of them too.
What are some of the challenges you are facing as an adult pupil?
I take care of the home apart from going to school. Most times, I find it hard to cope. Also, I attend school regularly but sometimes, I may not have transport fare to go to school. There are also times that I do not understand some of the things that a teacher is teaching. I always try to meet my mates to teach me or meet the teacher to explain. The teachers are nice. They give me attention whenever I ask questions.