‘My classmates are like my grandchildren’: Italian woman returns to school at 90

An Italian woman who was deprived of formal education during World War II has returned to the classroom to study for her school diploma – at the age of 90.

Anunjiata Murgia is the oldest person to attend the lesson Middle school diplomaOr middle school diploma, an examination usually taken by children in lower secondary education at the age of 14. He did so at an evening school near his home in Dolianova, Sardinia.

“I like to study, I always like it,” he tells Il Mesagero. “But when the war started, everything changed for me. I had to go and work, because my family struggled and I had to play my part. Once upon a time those who had money could study.

Murgia said she learned to sew as a child and went to sew. But he read a lot of books, and so “I studied alone whenever I could”.

His passion is history and music. “I’ve always loved history books, because I’ve felt good about the history written in books – I’ve seen the aftermath of World War I and survived the Second World War.”

Murgia’s youngest classmate 16, a student who will re-sit for the diploma because Murgia will make her first attempt in June. To be able to advance in higher education, including Italian literacy and math exams, you need to pass an exam that ends at 18 in Italy.

Marina Pelia, a literature teacher at the school, described Murgia as a very passionate and engaged student.

“Although she has some hearing problems, and was not in good form due to a fall yesterday, she actively participates in classes, especially history,” Pelia said.

The school is primarily for adult education and 16-20 year olds are required to retake the school. The average age of students in Murgia’s class is over 40, some of whom are also preparing for middle school diplomas.

“Often they are women who have regained their education after having children, or who have not received a diploma and need it for work, because it requires a minimum education,” Pelia said.

The last person in Murgia’s age to sit for school exams was an 87-year-old woman in 2016. Murgia said her teachers were “extraordinary” and her classmates were “like my grandchildren”.

“Someone comes home with me in the evening, when it’s dark,” he adds. And he is ready for the test. “I’ll give my all.”

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