Education Featured

Back to school: It’s never too late as more women return to class

Missing the chance to get an education during their youthful life did not bar these women from achieving their educational goals later in life

By Beverline Timanoi

Mature women are increasingly going back to school, their age not serving as a limitation. During this year’s graduation season towards the end of the year, the number of mature women receiving degrees and other awards is on the rise.

In Kajiado East alone, three women from Oloosidan village graduated from one university on the same day.

The three — assistant chief Rose Isaac, Jenifer Matipei and Teresia Mika, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in counselling psychology, diploma in business administration, and bachelor’s in early childhood education, respectively.

Missing the chance to get an education during their youthful life did not bar these women from achieving their educational goals later in life.

Matipei,speaking during her graduation celebration, narrated how her journey back to school was no ride in the park. “Even though I missed the chance to study while young, my husband made it possible for me to get the education I craved. The greatest challenge was having to balance between being a wife and a mother on the one hand and a student on the other; it takes determination to study at our age. ”

She says she had to take a break to focus on her family. “Luckily, my husband agreed to finance my education. I had to ensure that everything at home was well taken care of during the daytime in order to attend the evening classes,” she adds.

Yet another lady, Catherine Naneu, is a teacher who goes for school-based courses during her holidays. “We go back to school in order to improve our career levels and hopefully get promotions at our place of work.”

Some women seek to elevate their intellectual standards in order to improve their status in the community, especially if their work revolves around the community.

Mentorship from the many women scholars in Kajiado County,such as Dr Damaris Parsitau, Dr  Naomi Kipury and Dr Parmuat Lanoi— all of whom have made it locally and internationally — is another major reason pushing many women to study.

A typical Maasai girl will undergo female genital mutilation between the ages of 11 and 13 — and is immediately thereafter married to a man chosen by her father in exchange for cattle or cash.

A daughter’s marriage is counted as an increase to her family’s wealth. For families unable to pay for all their children’s education,giving priority to taking the sons to school is common.

This is because tradition dictates that girls will eventually leave their families and become members of their husbands’families upon marriage. The girls’families therefore believe that educating a girl is a loss as her family will not benefit from investing in her education. Some even assume that the education of girls is the responsibility of the family she will be married to.

Stereotypes based on gender about the role of women in a family also reduce the girl child’s access to education. Young girls assume domestic responsibilities while young and grow up assuming that their role is to take care of the family.

A majority of women with a low level of education would have dropped out in high school or early years of college as a result of pregnancy. Most parents would not take a girl back to school if she dropped out due to pregnancy, and such girls are married off to the man responsible.If the responsible man is a deadbeat,the girl would stay at home and eventually get married to any man willing to take her in.

Climatic and weather changes are also a major cause of the transition to books among women. The days when taking care of animals and farms was the main preoccupation are long gone, and the tough times are changing the thinking of many Maasai women.

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