– Asked about going to college, Fayiah maintains: “It’s never too late to learn.”
Three years ago, when James Fayiah, 77, a great grandfather of four (three girls, one boy) from Lofa County, who now resides in Gbarnga, Bong County, completed the 9th grade, no one ever thought he would continue to finish his high school studies. Born in 1940 in Foya District, Lofa County, Fayiah remembers how his parents kept him and his other siblings (all deceased) only for farming activities.
But not to waste time on his past, Fayiah said finishing high school is not the end for him. In fact, he told the Daily Observer that he plans to go to college; and thereafter, enter law school. Fayiah believes that age cannot be a hindrance to pursuing his dream. He said that ever since he was young, he had dreamed of becoming a lawyer. “I had it all planned. I said to myself, I will get married. I will have a dozen children. I will raise them and send them to school so later on they will spend for my tuition fees,” Fayiah said.
Now, he has every reason to celebrate after he obtained his high school diploma on Thursday, August 10, from the Liberia Opportunities Industrialization Center (LOIC), Gbarnga Satellite Extension High School. At 77, Fayiah makes it a point to read something out of a program he created to help prevent youth from making some of the mistakes he made that kept him out of school. “My young people, do not allow your parents to stop you from attending school. Encourage them to send you to school, because you will redeem them from the bondage of hardship and illiteracy. So do not make the mistakes some of us made that tied us to where we are today” he urged.
Holding his diploma, the excited Fayiah said his parents did not give him the opportunity to go to school, adding that his mother always wanted him around to help with farm work. “I hope the young people pay attention to my story and make the right decisions. Never give up. When one starts attending classes at a tender age, it is good to continue to the end. This is what is happening with me. With life in me, I will finish college and enter law school,” Fayiah lectured youth of school-going ages.
He recalled how he started school at the LOIC Extension High School as a beginner about 14 years ago not knowing how to read and write. “I kept the courage and hope that one day God will keep me alive to obtain my high school diploma. And so today, I am a proud graduate from high school, for which the sky remains my limit,” he remarked with optimism. He told this newspaper that his hope is to earn a bachelor of science (BSc) degree in agriculture, either from the University of Liberia or Cuttington University. Fayiah said he was always denied by people whenever he asked them to either read or write a note for him, either for a job or to friends, adding: “My request was always turned down, something that served as a driving force for me to enroll and complete high school.”
“Now, I can read and write any communication. Moreover, I will be sitting the upcoming Cuttington University entrance exam on August 12, because I want to reach my academic potential,” Fayiah hopes. “God blessed me with a son and he is currently in Europe doing everything for me. I have no reason to go to school, but because of the disrespect from the young ones that boasted about education, motivated me so much to go to school. My son is married in Europe and I have several stepchildren, some of them already out of high school,” he bragged.
The LOIC Extension High School registered 12 candidates for the WAEC for this academic year and only two students, including Fayiah, made a successful pass, according to the school’s registrar. “When Mr. Fayiah enrolled in this school as a beginner, we conducted extra classes for him because of his age, so we could not place him among the kids for psychological reasons,” the registrar said.
“Even in the 12th grade, his classmates referred to him as ‘grandfather,’ but we were able to control that. And interestingly, that did not deter him until he graduated today with the rest of his colleagues,” the registrar added.