Going to school revitalises 90-year-old

2008-07-29 00:00

Mncane Radebe is living proof that you are never too old to learn.

At the age of 90, she now knows how to write her name, count her own change and draw money from her bank account.

Mrs Radebe is one of over 14 000 people who graduated from the Masifundisane Mass Adult Literacy Campaign at a ceremony held by the KZN Education Department at the Royal Showgrounds yesterday.

As the eldest graduate yesterday, she could not resist showing off her new skills to the media as she wrote out her name, and she proudly proclaimed that she can also recognise it from a pile of others.

Mrs Radebe, a mother of eight, with five children still living, and grandmother of two, said she never had the opportunity to go to school because of her background, and Masifundisane was her first classroom. She used the imprint of her thumb to identify herself and was reconciled to the fact that a cross would be her signature for life.

“I was born in Msinga, but I now live in Nkandla. Growing up as a young girl, I never thought I would ever be able to wear a gown like all the educated people. But look at me now. I am so happy for what Masifundisane did for me. Going to school has revived my energy, I’m like a brand-new person,” she said.

Since the inception of the programme in 2006, over 250 000 people have been reached throughout KZN.

Education MEC Ina Cronjé said the programme is about restoring human dignity.

“We are on a mission to get KZN literate. I will never forget what a granny who was 101 years old said when she graduated a year ago. She said other people knew her name, but now she knows her own name. And that is what drives us as a department. At the twilight of their lives, these people are now able to write and recognise their names.”

Cronjé said she is happy with the progress of the project, considering that they have been able to reach people in remote areas who missed out on opportunities because of various factors, including the apartheid system.

“Our research actually found that the most illiterate people are in urban areas. But the idea is to take Masifundisane everywhere, and we are beginning to eat away at the 1,2 million illiterate people in our province. My appeal is for people to come forward, Masifundisane is here for you and it is free of charge,” Cronjé said.

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