The world’s oldest primary school student, Priscilla Sitieni, whose determination to get an education in her 90s inspired a French film and won praise from UNESCO, has died in Kenya at the age of 99, local media reported.
Her grandson, Sammy Chepsiror, told The Standard that Gogo Priscilla (Grandma Priscilla), as she was fondly known, died at home on Wednesday after developing chest complications.
“Gogo has been in good mental health and attended his classes until his death, when he developed chest pains, which forced him out of school,” he told the newspaper on Thursday.
“We thank him for 100 years of his life. He made us all proud,” he added.
He was 94 when he convinced the local school principal in Kenya’s Rift Valley to call him “a role model for his community and beyond,” according to UNESCO.
In an interview with the UN agency last year, she said her aim was to motivate young Kenyan mothers to return to school after having children, rather than drop out due to shame or fear of social stigma.
“I wanted to show an example not only to them, but also to other girls in the world who are not in school,” she said.
“Without education, there will be no difference between you and a chicken,” he said.
“Education is your future. Education is in your mind forever and you can’t lose it once you have it.’
His efforts were documented in a French film called “Gogo,” which led him to hop on a plane for the first time last year to visit France and meet first lady Brigitte Macron.
The film’s co-writer Patrick Pessis paid tribute to her on Thursday, tweeting: “Her message about girls’ education lives on.”