The Inspiring Story of Florence Cheptoo- A Student of 60

Who is Florence Cheptoo?

As it is well said in English language- There is no end to learning. Age being just a number and education seeming no limitations. Moving forward on this take, Florence Cheptoo- better known as A Student of 60, is the first grandma who learnt her first letters when her granddaughter bought a book from library. A sudden overtakes of enthusiasm to learn what was denied to her and get educated. Putting ourselves in her shoes how would have it been if we were denied of such right earlier?

How much written information we consume every hour – going through emails at work or flicking through messages on mobiles phone – it’s hard to imagine being without these ways of communicating.

There are several in count who deny trying something out due to fear, societal pressure and several other factors. But Florence Cheptoo, who lives in an isolated rural village near Chesongoch, in Kenya, has taken her move, overcome stereotypes and turned her first page as a 60-year-old.

Her Journey and Inspiration

Unlike any other day, her granddaughter bought books from library. The school had been given a small lending library of books, through the Book Aid International charity that distributes books donated by UK publishers.

It is then when her path to change from nothing to everything took a toll.

It was seen by the school that due to low literacy rate in Kenya and particularly in that region, many of the parents and grandparents of the schoolchildren were themselves illiterate and teachers began literacy lessons for adults.

The Early Struggles

Following the stereotypical norms, in her early days she was denied of the right of being educated. When she had been younger, there had been no support for her to become literate. What followed next was the usual traumatic pressure of her parents wanting her to get married, have a family and stay tending livestock; thus, leaving her with no chance to learn.

“My parents did not value or consider the need for education,” she said in her statement.

The problems she faced due to this was that she couldn’t sign her name or read any legal documents or check if she was being cheated over payments. More precisely, because of this she was being denied of her other basic rights.

However, now Florence has begun reading and lists the practical differences it has made in her life. Being a part of such an initiative and being counted amongst those called educated, Florence says she feels “the part of those who are in the modern world”.

A New Chapter

Florence, a grandma student of 60, can now lead the life of her choice; fulfilling all her basic essential needs of regular use like, reading the information on medicine she is prescribed, she can look at newspapers and find out about the outside world and take charge of her own personal records. When her grandchildren get school reports, she can see how they are progressing.

There are things she said she particularly enjoyed: reading storybooks for the first time, getting letters from her family and being able to read the Bible for herself. The small things that give happiness is now accessible to Florence.

Florence is extremely interested in geography. She opens up maps to locate the other countries and other places of her countries. Agriculture being her second favourite. She borrows books of agriculture to learn to do better farming.

Education has given her a new confidence. Letting her feel more knowledgeable and able to have an opinion. She is now able to identify what is good and bad in society.

The Other Initiatives

However, Florence wasn’t the oldest member of this adult literacy class.

There was another man in his 80s, having poor eyesight and all the defaults of a senior citizens. He wasn’t sure of his contribution but still made it a point to achieve what he couldn’t in earlier days and set an example. He told the teachers that he wanted to be seen regularly at the class to send a message to the rest of the village that this was an important move.

Also, to add on to the enthusiasm by these adults, The Book Aid International charity distributes a million free books a year, new from publishers, with further grants to buy books locally and to train librarians and teaching staff.

It is seen that in Kenya where Florence is learning there is a great demand for education and with a positive response from people. To cater to these needs, the library helps to serve.”It’s an incredibly powerful experience,” says Emma Taylor from Book Aid International, seeing people reading for the first time.

In the slums of Nairobi, she said, libraries had become a place of safety for young people, where they could feel protected, and then could begin exploring the books around them and opening up their minds to ideas. Because library is the only place which provides way for new ideas equally supplemented by proofs and means.

Education or being precise, learning- opens the door to so many different things that we take so much for granted.

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