Mother and son sat PLE together, and passed

41-year-old Ruth Namale with her youngest son. The two shared notes to enable them pass PLE. Photo by Veronica Kagona.

What you need to know:

One woman returned to school so she could learn to speak English in order to communicate well with her bosses. Being in the same class with her son enabled her score aggregate 16 in her Primary Leaving Examinations – and she is on her way to O-Level.

Ruth Namale is a woman with ambition. She is a single mother of three children, a cook at St. Kaloli Lwanga Catholic Church, Mbikko and a Primary Seven ‘vacist’. Her story tells a woman determined to achieve certain goals. Namale is among the pupils who passed the recently released 2012 Primary Leaving Exams. She got aggregate 16.

At 41 years, she beat the odds and joined school with Julius Mweruka, her 17-year-old last born son proving to the world that it is still possible for one to go back to school, even after a long break, and pass. After 27 years out of school, few would easily take the path Namale did.

She first joined Nakulamude Primary School in Gomba where she studied up to Primary Four before dropping out of school. She was married off. However she parted ways with her husband with whom she has three children. In 1990, she moved to Mbikko where she has been to date.

Namale says, her inspiration to go back to school was sparked by her colleague’s boss and her children.

“At first, I thought it wasn’t possible to go back to school after a long break, and much as I wanted to speak English like any other person at the office, it was not going to be easy for an illiterate person like me. I asked myself, “How can I study while working? Where will I get the money to pay my fees and that of my children? And, will I succeed in my attempt?” Those questions did not have answers.

“However, after thinking over it, I approached my boss, and he advised me to join Twezimbe Integrated Development Programme limited. I was told, it offers lessons for adults. I knew this was the only opportunity I had to get hands on books again,” she recalls.

Like other adults doing primary education, Namale was also the centre of attention. At first her family laughed at her, thinking she would never be able to make it. But she proved them wrong and did what they thought was impossible.

“When I returned to school, people thought it was ridiculous. Most people think that education is merely about jobs and money. Now they were asking what an old woman like me was doing in a classroom. However, for me it wasn’t all about money or the job, for me it was all about learning English so I can be at par with my bosses.”

Mweruka, Namale’s son happened to be in the same class as his mum. He was surprised that she was smarter than he thought.

“When mummy told us the she was going back to school, I knew she was joking. Seriously, after such a long break, what was she going to do in school, I asked myself. She didn’t even have an idea of reading any English statement but as time went by, I realised mummy wasn’t coming home early as she usually did. That’s when I realised she might have started school. She confirmed it to me and we started exchanging notes. In the last days before exams, we studied in the same class at St Benedict Primary School in Nakiibizi.

“Mummy showed me that she is brighter than I thought and as time went by, she proved us wrong and persisted with her education.”

Blessing in disguise
She says, with the help of her children and especially Mweruka, she was able to make it in exams.

“Much as Julius is my youngest son, I had great respect for him in addition to sharing the same class. We were at different schools but whenever Julius came back home, I would ask for his books so I could crosscheck if what they are studying is the same as what we were learning. Most of this time, we did revision together and this helped me so much.

“Having Julius studying with me more or less contributed to my success. Although I knew that my son would beat me in exams, I was always optimistic that it would not be by a big margin.” Indeed, Mweruka scored aggregate seven in his PLE.

Many would doubt that in a span of two years which Namale has spent in school, she would be able to speak fluent English. But Namale is now able to make some English statements. Currently, Namale hopes to further her education at Nakivubo Adult Education centre in Jinja while her son, will join St. Noah Mawagali in Mbikko.

“Right now, I am working hard and saving a lot of money for me and my children. Last year, I had a challenge of working while studying but I will still maintain my routine. I also have another challenge of fees for my three children but as time goes, with the help of my boss, Sister Maureen Carroll, I know all will be well,” she says with optimism.

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