Gladys Chelimo sat her class eight examinations in 2000 scoring 446 points out of 700 and was admitted to Kapkoiga girls in Uasin Gishu County.
However her parents could not afford to take her to secondary school due to biting poverty forcing her to do what most girls would do faced with the similar circumstances- get married.
Despite marriage offering a temporary refuge at that age, it was not as rosy as she imagined. Her husband was a person living with disability besides being landless. They were forced to live in a rental house.
“Since we are both unemployed, and given the condition of my husband, I have to continuously assist him eking for the family,” she said.
However the mother of four children the first born who is in class 6, second class 3, third in baby class and the last born being two years, did not lose her thirst for education.
“All along I knew that education opens doors to a better future,” she told KNA in Iten. With this in mind, the 30 year old decided to go back to school in 2015 enrolling for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams at Kipchawat adult education centre in Keiyo North of Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Her teacher Magrina Kandie said the husband was the first to go back to school while she assisted him in his school work.
“She later joined her husband but because of her responsibilities as a mother, she was not able to attend classes regularly,” Kandie said adding that when she became serious she registered for the exams at Kipchawat primary school.
Hungering for education Chelimo did not let them down as she managed to get 342 points becoming the leading adult education learner in the county. “I received the passing of my examinations with mixed emotions of joy and sadness as my efforts to a better future looked bleak,” she observed.
She said payment of school fees was a challenge for the couple. “My dream is to provide a better future for my family and especially my children whom I would not want to go through the challenges I have been through like dropping out of school due to lack
of school fees,” she said.
It was this dream and determination that saw her knock all doors including that of Equity bank through its wings to fly program in search of sponsorship for her secondary education despite the fact that she knew she had not attained the 350 points which are required.
Fate this time gave her a second chance as the interviewing board having seen her determination decided to grant her a special slot to be among the 30 students who qualified for full sponsorship from a total of the 260 who had applied from the county.
“I cannot express my feelings, I only thank God as He has answered my prayers. Promise to work hard and not to let my sponsors down,” is all she could say.
Since she got her results, she knew she would be admitted to a good school and this is exactly what happened as she will be joining Sing’ore girl’s secondary school which is one of the leading schools in the county on 9th February.
The Iten Equity Branch manager Albert Kiprop said they decided to give her an exception especially after visiting her home saying with education she would be able to transform the state of her family.
“The board concurred that given a chance she would expand the opportunities for her family as education is key in unlocking the potential within her,” he said.
Chelimo aspires to be an accountant in future. According to her, she meets most of those they were in school with in banks where they work and therefore it is her wish that one day she will join them.
Mrs Kandie says having dealt with adult learners, she realized that they were better at grasping issues though their main challenge was attending classes regularly due to their many responsibilities.
She however says while it is easy to control school children as one can give orders, adults have to be treated with caution as any slight harassment may lead them to boycotting classes.
Mary Chepkesis working with the county adult education department says the office has been receiving many young people who have dropped out of school due to various reasons and after some time decide to go on with their education.
“For such young people we attach them to primary schools and encourage them to proceed with their secondary education though if they dropped out because of lack of fees, this still becomes a problem,” she said.
She said for others, the department ensures that they provide them with basic education to enable them cope with various challenges in life. She however says the main challenge is retaining the adult learners in school.
“For example we currently have an enrolment of 679 learners but less than a hundred attend class regularly,” she said.
By Alice Wanjiru