Mexican woman fulfils a dream by starting high school at the age of 96
Barriers to education, Right to education
Guadalupe Palacios only learned to read and write in her nineties after growing up in poverty in an indigenous village and missing out on education.
Guadalupe Palacios stands out in her high school class in Mexico – and it is not just because of her gray hair, her deeply-creased skin or her 96 years.
Palacios, who is seeking to live out her dream of finishing high school by her 100th birthday, is also the most enthusiastic student in the classroom.
“I feel ready to give it my all. Today is a marvellous day,” she said on her first day of high school in the southern state of Chiapas, wearing the school uniform of a white polo shirt with a black skirt and her own personal touch – a pink sweater.
“Dona Lupita,” as she is affectionately known, was welcomed with applause from her fellow students at High School Number 2 in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital.
She diligently took notes in her chemistry and mathematics classes and even strutted her stuff in a dance class.
Palacios grew up in poverty in an indigenous village and spent her childhood helping her family farm corn and beans instead of going to school.
As an adult, she went to work selling chickens at market, married twice and had six children. Along the way, she picked up arithmetic but never learned to read and write.
When she turned 92, she said, she decided it was time and enrolled in a literacy programme.
“Now I can write letters to my boyfriends,” she said with a laugh.
But she did not stop there. In 2015, she enrolled in a primary school programme for adult learners. In less than four years, she completed both primary and middle school.
But there was no adult learning programme for high school – so she decided to enrol in a regular public school, with classmates eight decades younger.
Already, she is looking beyond high school. She would like to be a kindergarten teacher some day.