We meet Phylis Jebet, from Ngubereti, Mogotio Sub County, a mother of three who did her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in the year 1994 and managed to score 357 marks out of the 700 possibble marks then.
Jebet says she was excited to join secondary school to further her education but due to her humble background, she couldn’t join secondary but instead she was married off as it was a tradition to girls who couldn’t further their education.
She says that her dream was to become a journalist and she was inspired by radio personalities of that time, Elizabeth Obege and Gladys Erude whom she listened to mostly and she was very heartbroken to see her dream crumbling.
‘’I was very heartbroken because our teachers always told us that Education is the Key of Life, and I knew that without advancing in my education, I would never get a good life, earn a salary and lift my parents out from the valley of poverty.’’ Jebet narrated.
She says that after getting married she didn’t give up on her dream to be a journalist or rather further her education and hoped that she would one day see her dream come true.
‘’I was very settled and comfortable in my marriage but my unfulfilled dream to strike big in education started haunting me every day.” She said.
In the year 2011, her hope of going back to school was rekindled after Sagasagik Secondary School was openned and with the support of her loving husband who works in the Ministry of home affairs she was able to join form one, after 17 years in marriage.
She says that this amazed the residents of her Olmarai Village, with many women sneering behind her back, and others openly asking her to stay at home instead of wasting her husband’s money.
‘’It was already 17 years after I sat for my KCPE, but I still passed the interview and gained admission to form one, Mr.Shondoi was the acting Principal.” She revealed.
Adding that she will be forever grateful to the then Principal of Sagasakik Secondary School Charles Chemoiwo, for facilitating her transfer to join form two in Reuben Cheruiyot Secondary School near her Olmarai home.
Jebet says that the then Principal of the school Joseph Kiptisia gave her a warm reception and encouraged her to pursue her academic dreams and never to look back. The transfer was crucial in helping her achieve a balance between going to school and at the same time attending to her duties as a housewife.
‘’Before leaving Sagasakik Secondary School, Mr Chemoiwo the Principal gifted me with a unique tree which I said in my heart, it will always serve as a reminder of me being the first mother to join form one in Sagasagik Secondary School.” She narrated.
She says that her journey in secondary school was well and she never experienced any form of stigma from her schoolmates being a 34 years old student and probably the oldest student in her school.
Four years later in secondary school she sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education KCSE and scored a mean grade of D but she had given up on her dream of being a journalist and joined Egerton University to pursue a Certificate in Library and Information Science noting that she loves reading and enjoys being around books.
“I had lost too much time, and would no longer fit into the Media Industry and I therefore opted to be a book keeper. I love reading extensively and being around books.’’ Said the mother of three.
Between the year 2015-2018, she had already acquired her Certificate and a Diploma, a Distinction and a pass respectively.
Now having the keys of life in her hands, the keys have not yet unlocked the success and she is in the field hunting for a job as many graduates.
She reveals that her plan of going back to school was to encourage women and girls not to give up on education but now her then it will be impossible to convince them.
‘’I am very surprised that even with the fact that education is being marketed as the Key of Life, nobody now cares that I have put too much effort, and made sacrifices to be where I have reached.” She explained.
She says that she is a laughing stock noting that many village women now make reference of her, telling everyone how schooling is all about a waste of resources and precious time.
‘’ I am supposed to be a source of motivation and a role model to all the women and the girls in Ngubereti, about how good it is to go back to school even after giving birth. What now do I tell the young girls? The ones who even saw me with the graduation gown? Will they believe me and my story of Education being the Key and the light of the world?” She wondered.
She goes ahead to call on employers to give her a job so as to keep being a role model and source of inspiration to women and girls not to give up on education.
Adapted From Independent Reporters-Kenya