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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 01:35 GMT
Kenya's oldest schoolboy
By Grant Ferrett
BBC, Nairobi

The provision of free primary schooling in Kenya has been widely welcomed as a success since it was introduced last year by the newly-elected government.

The policy has had some unexpected consequences though - not least, the enrolment of the country's oldest schoolboy.

Kimani Nganga Maruge and classmates
Maruge took part in the Mau Mau rebellion against the British
Wearing a faded blue blazer, shorts and long socks, Kimani Nganga Maruge walks to school with his classmates dressed much like any other new boy - except that he also carries a walking stick and happens to be 84 years old.

Two of his 30 grandchildren attend the same school in the western town of Eldoret, but they are in more senior grades.

Mr Maruge says he decided to enrol when he heard that the new government was providing free primary education.

He had hoped to go to school before, but had never had the opportunity.

He says one of his main aims is to learn to count the money he expects to receive in compensation from the authorities for fighting against the British in the 1950s.

He also hopes to learn to read the Bible - because he does not trust the version he hears each week in church.

While there is general support for the Kenyan Government's policy of providing free schooling, some parents have complained that standards have dropped and classes have become overcrowded.

Mr Maruge thinks he might be able to help - he intends to provide informal history lessons to his younger classmates.

Call for free African schools
09 Jul 03  |  Africa
Kenya lifts ban on Mau Mau
31 Aug 03  |  Africa

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