Photos: A 50-year-old Nigerian school pupil shows it's never too late to learn

  • Shade Ajayi, aged 50, had never set foot in a classroom until middle age. In a pink dress and bonnet that now make up her uniform, she is happily learning to read and write alongside students aged 11 to 13 in Kwara state, Nigeria. As a child, Ajayi worked in her aunt's shop instead of attending school. She now runs her own business making and selling purses and bags. Ajayi signed up to attend school in the last academic year, only for it to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. But schools reopened in January and Ajayi finally got her chance.
PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST 8 Photos
1 / 8
Shade Ajayi, 50, chats with some of her classmates after class, at Ilorin Grammar school, in Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria on March 24. Ajayi had never set foot in a classroom until middle age. Now 50, the businesswoman is happily learning to read and write alongside students nearly four decades younger than her.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

Shade Ajayi, 50, chats with some of her classmates after class, at Ilorin Grammar school, in Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria on March 24. Ajayi had never set foot in a classroom until middle age. Now 50, the businesswoman is happily learning to read and write alongside students nearly four decades younger than her.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST
2 / 8
Shade Ajayi raises her hand to answer a question during class at Ilorin Grammar School in Ilorin, on March 25. Sitting at a wooden desk while donning the pink dress and bonnet that make up her uniform, Ajayi joins hundreds of similarly dressed pupils aged 11 to 13 at a school in Ilorin, in Nigeria's western Kwara state.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

Shade Ajayi raises her hand to answer a question during class at Ilorin Grammar School in Ilorin, on March 25. Sitting at a wooden desk while donning the pink dress and bonnet that make up her uniform, Ajayi joins hundreds of similarly dressed pupils aged 11 to 13 at a school in Ilorin, in Nigeria's western Kwara state.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST
3 / 8
Ajayi working in her shop in Ilorin on March 25. As a child, she worked in her aunt's shop instead of attending school. She now runs her own business making and selling purses and bags, but believes her inability to read or write is holding her back.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

Ajayi working in her shop in Ilorin on March 25. As a child, she worked in her aunt's shop instead of attending school. She now runs her own business making and selling purses and bags, but believes her inability to read or write is holding her back.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST
4 / 8
Ajayi in her shop in Ilorin on March 25. She signed up to attend school in the last academic year, only for it to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. But schools reopened in January and Ajayi finally got her chance.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

Ajayi in her shop in Ilorin on March 25. She signed up to attend school in the last academic year, only for it to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. But schools reopened in January and Ajayi finally got her chance.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST
5 / 8
A teacher writes on a chalkboard during a class at Ilorin Grammar School in Ilorin on March 24. Ajayi's teacher, Nasrat Busari, told Reuters that the mature student (Shade Ajayi) appeared completely undeterred by the age gap.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

A teacher writes on a chalkboard during a class at Ilorin Grammar School in Ilorin on March 24. Ajayi's teacher, Nasrat Busari, told Reuters that the mature student (Shade Ajayi) appeared completely undeterred by the age gap.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST
6 / 8
Students stand on tyres in the playground of Ilorin Grammar school in Ilorin on March 24. "She has been coping well with the other students: playing together, talking together and discussing things together," Busari told Reuters.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

Students stand on tyres in the playground of Ilorin Grammar school in Ilorin on March 24. "She has been coping well with the other students: playing together, talking together and discussing things together," Busari told Reuters.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST
7 / 8
Ajayi helps her six-year-old granddaughter Deborah Adeboye with her homework, at her home in Ilorin on March 24. It has been hard to juggle school and work, and deal with the stigma. Her daughter, Shola Adeboye, said she was initially embarrassed that her mother attended school alongside children, but later came around.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

Ajayi helps her six-year-old granddaughter Deborah Adeboye with her homework, at her home in Ilorin on March 24. It has been hard to juggle school and work, and deal with the stigma. Her daughter, Shola Adeboye, said she was initially embarrassed that her mother attended school alongside children, but later came around.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST
8 / 8
Ajayi irons her school uniform as she prepares for school, at her home in Ilorin on March 25. She intends to continue her education for four more years, saying it will help her business. "I'm not ashamed that I wear a uniform," Ajayi said.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

Ajayi irons her school uniform as she prepares for school, at her home in Ilorin on March 25. She intends to continue her education for four more years, saying it will help her business. "I'm not ashamed that I wear a uniform," Ajayi said.(Temilade Adelaja / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON APR 02, 2021 03:46 PM IST
SHARE
Story Saved