✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

How I was mocked for returning to school at 50 – Mrs Ajayi

Mrs Folashade Ajayi hails from Iludun-Oro in Irepodun Local Government but lives at Orelope Street in Odota area of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. Although…

Mrs Folashade Ajayi hails from Iludun-Oro in Irepodun Local Government but lives at Orelope Street in Odota area of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. Although initially, a trained seamstress who later specialised in bag making, her decision recently to return to secondary school at 50 years old caused ripples in the state.

At present enjoying her first term holiday, the JSSII pupil of Ilorin Grammar School (IGS), says it has not been easy coping with the jibes and school routine and managing her bag making business.

But why did Mrs Ajayi  took such a decision since there are adult literacy classes you may want to ask?


Narrating how the journey started, Mrs Ajayi, a widow, told Daily Trust on Saturday thus: “I had wanted to go to school right from when I was young and had always been in love with education. But my uncle whom I stayed with did not approve of my schooling. All my pleading was all to no avail. Then I was in Lagos. But when I later came to Ilorin, I enrolled myself into the Adult Literacy class then, in 2017.”

Despite that, she felt there was the need for more formal learning and the opportunity came during one of their meetings as a member of bag makers association. She was requested to indicate her level of education in one of the forms she was to fill. She said, “That day, I was confused because I didn’t want to indicate or insinuate a certificate that I didn’t have. So I decided it was time I did something about it.”

Her subsequent inquiries while discussing with her customers in the bag business at the former head office of the Court of Appeal, Kwara State, led her to know some officials of the State Ministry of Education. They later directed her to Ilorin Grammar School (IGH) where she is now popularly called ‘Aunty Shade’.


Although, it has not been all rosy with her new routine as a junior secondary school pupil at 50, she said with the support and assistance of the principal, staff and students, she has been able to settle down despite the challenges.

“Now, I have to be very conscious of my surrounding and not flout the rules of the school so that I will not be liable to punishment which could be degrading. I have really made appreciable progress in my reading and writing abilities but I know I still have a lot to do.

“The school even went out of their way to appeal to the students to tolerate me and try as much as possible not to frustrate me out of this lifetime opportunity and they have been very cooperative which has made me feel relaxed. If not, maybe I would have dropped out.

Reception by neighbours and children

Mrs Ajayi recounted how she was gossiped about, mocked and even insulted by some of her neighbours. She noted that the irony of the whole thing was that those mocking her were in a situation that was even worse than hers, but could not take the step she took to improve their lives.

“I was insulted by some of my neighbours for my decision to go to school at my age and was widely gossiped about even though most of them are not educated either. But I was never intimidated or felt ashamed which was what they wanted.

Mrs Folashade Ajayi
Mrs Folashade Ajayi

“They laughed at me most times saying I was competing with my grandchildren; they mock me calling me “Iya Ilewe”. As a human being, some of these comments are saddening because they will sustain it till you feel depressed. But I never allow it to affect me or dampen my resolve because I have my motivation. The fact that I don’t wear my uniform from home till I get to school also helps in reducing the insults. Otherwise, it would have been more difficult.

Mrs Ajayi said her children were also initially very angry, saying that “I have exposed them to ridicule” and asking why I did not just continue with my adult literacy. They reasoned that wearing a uniform and sitting in the same class with my grandchildren will put the spotlight on me.

One of them was even sent to the school to try to convince the authority against my decision, but the principal and other staff were able to convince her that I should be allowed to follow my passion and heart,” she submitted.

She, however, advised her “detractors” to return to school and get educated no matter the circumstance.

Happiest moment in school

Having finished her second term examination with a result that is also encouraging, she explained that she studied twice daily – morning and evening – adding that “The day I wore the school uniform was one of mixed feelings that graduated from despair to hope and conviction that I was pursuing the right cause.

“My happiest moment in school is whenever we are being taught and I am writing or copying notes based on the teachers’ instruction. Although I am slow because sometimes I don’t see clearly what is written on the board and have to move closer. I don’t normally go for break or engage in playful activities, which is understandable.”


According to her, the driving force is first to be educated. “But I love teaching and if God says that is my calling then that is okay. However, I don’t think at this age, I would want to engage in any job that will be too exhausting or very demanding,” she said.

She appealed to the government and public-spirited individuals to help in “completing my burning desire to be educated. I want to pursue it at the university and even attain the level of professor. I don’t want to finish this and then stay at home doing nothing.

“As an entrepreneur, I have apprentices and I would like the government and others to help expand my business. The government and other people can facilitate bringing people to come and learn under me and thus make me employer of labour.

The principal of Ilorin Grammar School (IGS), Junior Section, AbdulRahman Zubair Akeyede, said Mrs Ajayi has been doing well since she joined the school.

“In her examination, she didn’t do badly at all and she brought herself to the level of other students. She had her adult education certificate before now, which is equivalent to primary school. We determined her class after she was placed on entrance examination to know her ability and we enrolled her in JSS2.

“All our students accord her utmost respect,” he noted.

On her part, her class teacher, Mrs. Olarewaju Rahamat Ademola, described Ajayi Folashade’s class performance as above average.

“We felt perturbed when she joined to see a woman of her age in our clime to want to pursue education at that age. It is very rare to see someone display such in this society.

“Her class performance is okay. In fact, she performed above average in her class assessment. And with the help of other teachers, she can perform better.

“Her case has since become a reference point for other students as they are charged to make hay while the sun is still shining,” Olarewaju said.

Reacting to the issue, an education counsellor, Mrs Adewumi Nike Aminat, said “What Mrs Ajayi has done is very commendable because it is better late than never.

“Her action will influence very many others who have been finding it difficult to take same steps, maybe because of advice from guardians or parents.

“This will be a challenge to guardians that have wards under them to understand that we should always give them education. But for her determination, she would have lost out completely,” he added.

Her 11-year-old class monitor, Ajenifuja Qureebullah, described Mrs Ajayi as a strange phenomenon and inspiration to many, adding that others her age should jettison pride or stigma and come to school to learn.

”I see her decision as a strange thing, at her age coming to school to learn. She behaves like a mother to us and not like a classmate.

“I have never had cause to discipline her because she always behaved herself very well and very respectful.

”Others in her shoes should do the needful and forget pride and come to school to learn.”

Are you currently earning in Naira but need salary/earnings in Dollars? You have an opportunity to earn as much as $10,000 (₦9.2 million naira) monthly. Click here to get evidence.

%d bloggers like this: