World vision out of Africa

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
An 85-year-old Kenyan primary pupil hopes British children can learn from him, reports Adi Bloom

Sitting in a cramped classroom, surrounded by pupils a tenth of his age, Kimani Nganga Maruge knows that there is much to learn from difference.

At 85 he is the world's oldest primary pupil. Now he has lent his support to The TES Make The Link campaign, encouraging British schools to link with primaries and secondaries overseas.

"Every day I attend school feels like I am in heaven," said Mr Maruge, who is a pupil at Kapenduywa primary, in the Rift Valley province of Kenya. "If God could make me live to 300, I could finish my education.

"People in Britain could learn a lot from our culture and the games we play. I wish to know how pupils in England are taught, what books they use, even what pens and paper they use. People should learn from each other's differences."

The TES campaign is backed by a pound;21,000 awards scheme to reward schools and colleges that have used overseas links to promote global citizenship, enrich the curriculum, and enhance school life for both schools.

Mr Maruge decided to speak about the importance of such campaigns, after Action Aid, the development agency, drew his attention to the 100 million children who are missing out on primary education.

He grew up in colonial Kenya but did not go to school because his parents could not afford the fees. His schooling finally began in January 2004, when free primary education was introduced in Kenya. He enrolled in Kapenduywa with two of his 30 grandchildren. "I try to be a model for younger pupils," he said. "If I sit quietly, they sit quietly too." Jane Obinchu, headteacher of Kapenduywa primary, said: "Some of our pupils walk 45km to and from school every day. In Kenya, people who aren't educated can't get a job and end up sleeping rough. If children in Britain are told how handicapped you are without an education, they may be more interested in learning."

To contact Kapenduywa primary, email:

Teacher 14 and 25

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