Pulkeria Gubika, 65, squeezes in between her class mates in Primary Three ready to take her lessons. Photos by Yazid Yolisigira.

By Yazid Yolisigira
Forty five-year-old Monica Namuli in Iwuba village, Mayuge District has gone back to school in Primary Five. On a Monday morning at Kyebando Primary School where she goes to school, we find her picking rubbish around the school compound with fellow pupils under the supervision of a teacher.

Dressed in a blue school uniform, the mother of six was wearing sandals and holding a mathematical set. After the school assembly, Namuli heads to Primary Five class for a Mathematics lesson.
Among Namuli’s schoolmates are her children; Esther Faima, 13, in Primary Six; Micheal Isiko, 11, in Primary Four; and her seven-year-old granddaughter Magret Namugere in Primary One. Every day, she walks about 3kms with her children to school.
She explains that she is a businesswoman dealing in selling old clothes. “I went back to school to learn how to count money and speak English,” Namuli explains, “I do business vending old clothes in market centres. I was finding difficulty counting large sums of money and talking to customers who speak English.”
The mature pupil, who has already lost two canines, discloses that she dropped out of school in Primary Four as a child when she was still living with parents in Jinja District due to lack of school fees. Today, she is taking advantage of the Universal Primary Education programme.
In class, Namuli sits by the window besides two 12-year-old classmates. Micheal Madundu, the Mathematics teacher, walks up to her and can be heard offering extra guidance in drawing and measuring angles.

“You should place the protractor well and use the pencil to look for the said angle. When doing this try to be accurate,” he offers. But Madundu testifies that Namuli also holds her own, participating as much as possible in class.
“She has been active in class since she joined us in first term this year. She is determined and interacts with fellow classmates. She can now read sentences in English and solve Mathematical equations. Last term, she was among the top 25 performers in her class,” says Madundu.
On the family front, Namuli says she separated with her husband three years ago and two of her daughters are married.

65-year-old in Primary Three
At the school, Namuli is not the only adult learner. A few rooms away from Namuli’s class, I find 65-year-old Pulkeria Gubiika taking a science lesson in Primary Three.

“Can you give me examples of living things?” the teacher, Miriam Nawire, asks the class. Seated between two nine-year-old pupils, Gubiika raises her hand and when picked, answers “Maize” sending her classmates into fits of laughter. The teacher told her that the answer was wrong and fellow pupils gave the correct answers including man and dog. When the teacher made the class sing to break the monotony of class work, Gubiika participated.
A resident at Kyebando village near the school, Gubiika says she is a staunch Catholic who came to school to learn how to read a Bible. “I have a Bible but I don’t know how to read it. This forced me to come to school because I need to learn to read about God for myself,” she says, adding that she lost all her children died.
Her teacher attests to Gubiika’s improvement, especially in pronunciation of words, since she first joined the school in 2014.
“She is promising because she can now copy letters from the blackboard and count numbers from one to 100,” says her teacher.
Robert Banalya, the school deputy head teacher, says; “When we first received Pulkeria Gubiika, we thought she had come to seek a vacancy for her child. But they have both been well behaved and are doing well.

Their biggest challenge is that they have commitments at home and we have to release them by 3pm to go and work for their families.
This affects them because they always miss taking part in co-curricular activities such as sports.Their return to school after soo many years shows that education has no limit. Everyone should study.”