Valerie Palmer, 67, tackles 2014 matric

CLASS ACT: Teachers Anthony Walton, left, and Eugene Snayer, right, give equal attention to Valerie Palmer, front, 67, and youngest pupil Justine Jantjies, 18, during their matric lessons at Hillside High School. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
CLASS ACT: Teachers Anthony Walton, left, and Eugene Snayer, right, give equal attention to Valerie Palmer, front, 67, and youngest pupil Justine Jantjies, 18, during their matric lessons at Hillside High School. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

THAT no one is too old to learn is being proved again by 67-year-old Valerie Palmer, who is on her way to completing her matric through a community programme.

Palmer, of Salsoneville, is one of several mature students who have set out to obtain their matric certificate through the Northern Areas People Development Initiative (Napdi) Second Chance programme.

Every Saturday, along with 68 young and old citizens aiming to do the same, the mother of eight is tutored and taught by volunteer teachers determined to help her achieve her goal.

“I grew up with my granny and other kids she fostered on her humble pension,” Palmer said.

“There simply wasn’t enough money to get me through to matric and I left school in Standard 8 [Grade 10].

“I was lucky to get work in a factory and built my career based on my experience, but there was always something missing, something eating away at my self-confidence. When I heard about the opportunity to complete my matric, I grabbed it with both hands.

“Now I can rest in peace.” Palmer attended Paterson High School in the 1970s. She completed the English, Afrikaans and biblical studies matric modules last month and is registered for history next semester.

“One is never, ever too old to learn.

“I wish youngsters who have the opportunities these days would make the most of it. Education is power. Today I have the power I have been yearning for most of my life.”

Volunteer teachers have sacrificed their Saturdays since 2012 to assist these aspiring students.

Careworker Janine Simpson, 50, of Booysen Park, quit her job to complete her matric more than 30 years after she left school. “My last standard passed is Standard 6 which I did at Die Heuwel [Primary School in Hillside].

“I had to work for my family and there was never another opportunity to further my qualifications until I heard about the programme in January.

“Being a careworker who worked 12 hours and had to do six subjects in four months, I quit my job knowing that I would not be able to get it back. That is how much I wanted it.”

Volunteer Eugene Snayer, 57, who teaches English at Bertram High School in Chatty, said there was nothing as rewarding as seeing knowledge being transferred and people’s confidence being boosted. “There is a certain dignity that comes with achieving one’s goals, but more so being a qualified matriculant – a dignity that shows more and more as students, old and young, walk through our doors.”

Napdi chairman Isaac Metembo said: “The mandate is to empower the community through the projects we do.

“It is really rewarding seeing people set free, personally and professionally, through obtaining matric certificates, especially the elders who motivate the masses. This just shows that one really is never too old to learn.” – Alvené du Plessis

  •  Contact Metembo on 041-4571422.

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