Friday, June 17, 2011

World's Oldest First Grader

In 2003, the Kibaki government of Kenya abolished school fees for primary school level. Everyone welcomed this positive move by the government including 84 year old Kimani Maruge.

Kimani, a former Mau Mau freedom fighter, never had a chance to go to school during his younger years. He was in the forest fighting the British colonial government for Kenya's independence.  By the time Kenya attained its independence in 1963, Mr. Maruge was a family man.
Kimani Maruge
He, however, never lost his desire to go to school. His goal was to go to school to learn how to read so that he could read his Bible. Mr. Maruge was very secure in who he was and was determined to get what he had always dreamed of. He sat in class with children who were as young as his great-grand children. He humbly participated and did not dominate in the class. In 2005 Maruge, who was a model student, was elected head boy of his school. In September of the same year he boarded a plane for the first time in his life, and headed to the United Nations in New York, with the Global Campaign for Education. The purpose of his trip was to urge world leaders to fulfill their promise of free education for all. Maruge delivered the "Send My Friend to School" messages from over 5 million campaigners, and spoke to officials about the importance of education.

Where there is a will there is a way, so the saying goes. Mr. Maruge found a way to learn how to read the day he made the choice to go back to school. He also aspired to see the world, and he got a taste of that in a first class sort of way. He holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to start primary school.

More on Kimani Maruge next blog...

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