82-year-old John Harry Johnson gave true meaning to the saying that education has no end when he enrolled with the Centre for Continuing Education of the University of Cape Coast for a three year Diploma in Basic Education in February 2004.
Many people regarded his action as “funny” but that did not deter the old school boy from his dream of completing the programme. Now at 82, John, grandfather of five and great grandfather of five others is in his last year of the programme and would complete in August this year.
When “The Mirror” caught up with him again, Mr. Johnson said he was determined to complete his course. Mr. Johnson has been teaching for the past 60 years of his life and said teaching has been everything to him. "I love to teach and I would do anything to enable me do it and do it well in this new world of ours."
And that was why Mr. Johnson said he decided to take the course to be abreast with changing teaching methods and techniques. Mr. Johnson obtained a postgraduate Diploma in Informatics and Mathematics of research from the University of Bucharest in Romania in 1976. Before that, Mr. Johnson had taught at St. Augustine's College and Mfantsipim School, both in Cape Coast for several years but was retired compulsorily in 1979 at the age of 55.
Mr. Johnson reiterated that the use of chronological age as the basics for retiring people was not helping the nation saying that it must be reviewed. He said there were experienced retired teachers and other professionals who are mentally sound and endowed with good health and who can contribute meaningfully to socio-economic growth but who have been retired to stay home and die. But Mr. Johnson's decision to go back to the classroom did not come without problems.
He said the main problem was to get his 81-year old sweetheart, Charly, to understand that it was alright for him to go to school. “My wife loves me, I know that, but she says going back to school at this age is not the best," he said with a smile. But he was determined to sort things out with her, “I believe she will understand soon".
Mr. Johnson has all his teeth intact and articulated points with precision. He said there was a secret to his healthy state apart from his daily prayers and the grace of God.
This he attributed to the fact that he did not eat in between meals and made sure he bathed twice daily. Currently, Mr. Johnson says he teaches street children for free in the evenings and added that he was ready to accept employment from any institution, which is ready to pay him a reasonable salary.