Seventy-three year old Mulomba Mutakwa is by far the oldest person in Zambia to sit for Grade 12 General Certificate of Education (GCE) examinations.
Mrs Mutakwa, a retired teacher, was last Wednesday among 13 GCE candidates who sat for history paper (I) at Kabwe School for Continuing Education.
As she sat in the examination room waiting for the invigilator to hand her the question paper, she was very anxious and probably felt she made a wrong choice to go back to school. But she remained undaunted.
She did her best, she says.
“I was very anxious but I am happy that I wrote the paper,” she said. “It [examination] has motivated me and I am encouraged. I feel I can do it.”
Pastor Simweemba, director of Home Health Education Service (HHES) in Kabwe under the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA), convinced her to sit for GCE examination.
“He felt this was going to help me to be well-informed,” the septuagenarian shares.
She does a lot of work under HHES and this demands a lot of reading and exposure to current affairs. It means a good command of English is a pre-requisite for her.
She also has an interest in history.
“History will also help me to understand the scriptures,” Ms Mutakwa, a retired primary school teacher, says.
In March this year, the mother of four and grandmother registered to sit for English, Religious Education and History at Kabwe School for Continuing Education.
She did not, however, sit for English and Religious Education because she had a bereavement on the dates she was supposed to write the two subjects. She intends to sit for them next year.
True to its name, the Kabwe School for Continuing Education has for the first time recorded a septuagenarian among its GCE candidates.
“She is even an encouragement to members of staff that age shouldn’t be a factor to make progress in education,” principal at the school Elias Chanda said.
Mrs Mutakwa told staff at the school that she intends to enrol in university to undertake a course that would be of interest to her.
“Our advice to her is that she shouldn’t give up but keep writing until she has the right qualifications,” Mr Chanda said.
Central Province education officer Jennipher Banda described Mrs Mutakwa as a courageous woman.
Ms Banda adds that Mrs Mutakwa stands as a shining example that “education knows no age”.
She says there is a big possibility Mrs Mutakwa is the oldest person in Central Province to have sat for Grade 12 GCE examinations.
Her granddaughter, Lucy Mondoka, is humbled by her grandmother’s decision.
Ms Mondoka, a teacher at Kabwe School for Continuing Education, adds that her grandmother is showing a good example that anyone can go to school at any age.
“This is a big step she took because at her age, she is supposed to be resting but she has decided to return to school,” Ms Mondoka says.
Ms Mondoka is inspired and she wants to improve her academic qualifications.
When she completed her primary school decades ago, Mrs Mutakwa proceeded to do her junior secondary education.
She went up to Form Two and proceeded to David Livingstone Teacher Training College for a two-year course.
She worked as a primary school teacher for 31 years. She retired in 1996 at Mine Primary School, one of the local schools in Kabwe.