6 Inspiring People Who Started School From Ages 80 And Above

6 Inspiring People Who Started School From Ages 80 And Above

9 months ago
3 mins read

By Mercy Johnson


The age-long saying that determination is success has continued to be proven true in people’s quest to achieve what is seemingly difficult or impossible to others.

Recently, an Indian Great-grandmother, Salima Khan, went viral for having learnt how to read and write, after she started school at the age of 92. Her story spread after a video of her counting from 1-100 went viral on social media.

Totally uneducated and therefore, unable to read and write, begining from chilhood, Salima Khan, with an unflinching passion for education and fulfilling her educational goals, enrolled in basic school as a nonagenarian. Her decision and the successful outcome inspired other women from her village to start school.

READ ALSO: 92-year-old Indian Great Grandmother Goes To School, Inspires Other Women

Salima Khan, is however not the first of her kind as there have been stories of inspiring people who decided to go to school even in their old age, defying stereotypes and affirming that it is never too late to pursue and achieve your dreams.

Here are 10 inspiring people who started school from ages 80 and above:

Ma Xiuxian of China

6 Inspiring People Who Started School From Ages 80 And Above

Ma Xiuxian joined a group of five-year olds for their first day of school at the age of 102. She started work in a cotton mill at the age of 13 and got married at 18, having no opportunity to attend school as a child. Ma Xiuxian however had hopes of going to school and finally had the chance to as she joined grade 1 pupils in class at Weshan Road Elementary School in the Shandong province. She had the support of her son Yi Fengxin, aged 58. Ma Xiuxian made a promise to study hard and make her contribution to her country after her first day of school.

Priscilla Sitienei of Kenya

6 Inspiring People Who Started School From Ages 80 And Above

The Kenyan woman decided to go to school, enrolling in Kenya’s Rift Valley at the age of 85. She claimed that she wanted to go to school to pursue her career of becoming a doctor since she used to be a midwife, and to set a good example for her great grandchildren, whilst inspiring other children. She had also hoped to motivate girls who were not in school on the importance of education, encouraging those who felt too old to pursue education. Priscilla attended school with six of her great-great-grandchildren. The old woman however died at the age of 99 after developing some health complications.

Kimani Maruge of Kenya

6 Inspiring People Who Started School From Ages 80 And Above

Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge is believed to be the oldest person who enrolled in primary school and was recognised by Guinness Book of World Records. In January 2015, Google created a special doodle on its Kenya page to mark the 11th anniversary of Kimani Maruge going to primary school for the first time at the age of 84. Maruge was a former Mau Mau fighter who fought for Kenya’s independence from the British. In 2002, the Kenyan Government announced free primary education for all and ,aruge decided to enrol despite his age. He encountered obstacles and opposition from his parents and government officials but this did not deter him. Maruge had the desire to read the Bible and count and going to school would help him achieve that. He lived for five years after his enrollment and died at the age of 89, in 2009.

Akasease Kofi Boakye Yiadom of Ghana

6 Inspiring People Who Started School From Ages 80 And Above

Akasease Kofi Boakye Yiadom was a Ghanaian World War II veteran who graduated from the Presbyterian University College’s business school at the age of 99 in 2010 having enrolled into the Presbyterian University College at 96. He became one of the significant voices that clamoured against Ghanaians leaving the country in search of greener pastures after completing his tertiary education. In an interview with CNN, Boakye Yiadom then said “Education has no end. As far as your brain can work all right, your eyes can see all right and your ears can hear all right, if you go to school you can learn.” This statement serves as an encouragement to people to go to school no matter their age.

Allan Stewart of Australia

6 Inspiring People Who Started School From Ages 80 And Above

Allan Stewart decided to go back to school in his 80s with the intention of keeping himself mentally active. He completed a law degree at the age of 91, obtaining a recognition from the Guinness World Records in 2006. Allan went further to obtain a masters degree at the age of 97 from Southern Cross University. Stewart had affirmed that people were never too old to study. He said “It is never too late to expand your mind, make new friends and challenge yourself to achieve something worthwhile.”

Mohammud Modibbo of Nigeria

6 Inspiring People Who Started School From Ages 80 And Above
Photo credit: BBC News

Mohammud Modibbo is believed to be Nigeria’s oldest primary school pupil who started his primary education in his mid-80s. Born in Kano, Modibbo had been a trader for most of his life before he started school. Modibbo had the courage to sit in a class with pupils young enough to be his great-grandchildren. He was able to complete his primary education and pass his Common Entrance Examinations before dying at the age of 94 in 2015.



It is obvious that there are and were old people who didn’t give up on their educational dreams because of age just like Salima Khan. They refused to be limited by their age or societal expectations. They served and still serve as a source of encouragement to people all over the world who have a desire for education but have given up on that due to age.


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