While many never dream about going to school once they clock 40 years, it is a different story for 45-year- old Beatrice Uwizeye. Over three decades after dropping out of school, Uwizeye is determined to get to the pinnacle of her education dream.
She shared the same desk with her own daughter and sat the national exams with her daughter. She is optimistic she will perform better, probably even much better than her daughter.
But her story starts from her humble childhood and being born in a poverty stricken homestead.
Born in extreme poverty, the furthest Beatrice Uwizeye’s parents could push her was senior three. She was then left with no option but to drop out of school and get married at a tender age. That was in 1984.
27 years later, she found herself struggling as a single mother with six children to look after.
“I noticed that my children seriously needed healthcare, education and food but there was no way to achieve that without a sustainable source of income,” Uwizeye recalls.
She couldn’t apply for a decent job because she did not have the necessary academic requirements beyond senior three level.
It suddenly occurred to her that the world was not a place for people who didn’t have academic qualifications like her.
Uncertain of the future without papers, Uwizeye made a decision to head back to school. She joined Advanced Level at Saint Peter College, Shyogwe, Muhanga District, Southern Province, the same school her children were attending.
“One thing I know about myself is that I never give up. I keep pushing till I get what I want. This is why I put society’s opinion behind and went back to school despite my advanced age,” she explains.
Strangely, Uwizeye was a class mate of her own daughter before they both sat for the final papers during the recent national exams.
“We revised and also carried out discussions together. What I failed to understand, she explained, and vice versa. And this brought us closer as mom and daughter.”
She pointed out that being a mother figure to her other classmates made them treat her with immense respect, always referring to her as mama. They were always supportive with class work.
Uwizeye said that balancing work and family wasn’t hard. The fact that she was on an evening programme, it gave her the chance to handle domestic duties during the day.
She hopes that after school she will be able to get a good job and support not only her immediate family but also distant relatives who came to her rescue in her time of need.
If the results turn out good, she hopes to pursue a degree in Public Administration which will probably increase her chances of promotion at her present work place.
“Already, one of my children has graduated from University, another is about to, two are in secondary school, and the other ones are in primary. This is encouraging enough,” she reveals.
Uwizeye added that she was also on the verge of losing her current job as a Secretary at Ngororero District Headquarters, Western Province, because of lack of academic qualifications. But she says she has convinced the district administration to be patient as she is already on track to acquire academic papers.
“I call upon other adults like me to go back to school since learning doesn’t have an age limit,” she said.