Sharing adult learning journeys to inspire

21st September 2021

This Adult Learners’ Week, 20-26 September, two leading charities have joined forces to showcase diverse women who have returned to learning and changed their lives.

Chwarae Teg have partnered with the Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group – working together to share the stories of two incredible role models, Elizabeth Oladipo and Anne Florette Tiencheu. Both came to Wales as asylum seekers and want to share their experiences and encourage others to reap the benefits of adult learning.

Elizabeth grew up in Nigeria and loved to learn, but her education ended when she was 11 as the fees were too costly for her parents. However, when she settled in Cardiff three years ago, she began to study again and feels it’s given her the chance get out and meet people in her community, boosted her confidence and set an example to her children and other women.

First enrolling in short courses, Elizabeth is now studying a Psychology degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Going through the asylum process is traumatic, being able to learn helped to take my mind off things. I was experiencing depression, I was lonely. Learning helped to keep my mind busy, to interact with people, it helped me to keep my sanity.

“My advice to others would be to take baby steps, enrol on short courses to see what you enjoy and build your confidence. It can be a struggle when it comes to childcare and there will be people who discourage you, but no matter what they say, just believe in yourself. Say that you can do this.

Elizabeth Oladipo
Adult Learner

Anne was raised as one of eight children in Cameroon where education is paid for from primary age. Lack of funds meant she couldn’t finish her degree, however when she came to Cardiff, Space4U – a charity that helps asylum seekers, told Anne about the Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group (WSSAG). The organisations helped her find courses and go to college.

When I gained my refugee status, Constance Nzeneu - the founder of WSSAG, told me, ‘sister, you should go to school.’

“I’m now heading into my second year of a Foundation degree in Community Health & Wellbeing at the University of South Wales. My goal is to go to university, to do social work and then work in that field or as a nurse. I want to help people, do something that is good for society, as I know that will make me happy. When you want something, you have to keep going.”

“Learning is good because you gain knowledge, experience – I don’t know quite how to put it, but you feel more important. Adult learning has helped me build on my English vocabulary, my confidence and gain self-esteem. As a child I didn’t have access to a library but here in Wales we have libraries, the internet, tutors that can help us; everything you need to learn.

Anne Florette Tiencheu
Adult Learner