Learning is a family affair for the Deenahs

Several people sat round a table posing for a photo

UCEN Manchester helps Agaja Deenah head back to the books. 

June is the Festival of Learning’s ‘Have a Go Month’ and we are taking the opportunity to celebrate adult learning across our Group.

The Festival of Learning #lovetolearn is the biggest celebration of lifelong learning in England. We talk to student Agaja Deenah about how three generations of his family have joined him on his educational journey.

UCEN Manchester has helped grandfather Agaja Deenah with his lifelong love of learning - one of THREE generations on the same course and one of FIVE family members at the same campus.

The 63 year old former engineer and magistrate says it’s never too late to learn and has just completed his foundation degree in Criminology at UCEN Manchester’s Openshaw campus.

Education is a real family affair for Agaja who is joined in class by his son Tokiho (31). Other son Najee (24) is on the first year of the same course along with Agaja’s granddaughter Kaira (18), while daughter Kamoe (29) is in her first year of a Childhood and Youth Studies course.

Agaja, who hails from Jamaica, said: “I don’t believe in retirement, I’ve always worked and spent 17 years as a magistrate in Jamaica.

“There’s no official qualification that comes with being a magistrate and I wanted to get a qualification in that area of law.

It was my daughter-in-law that spotted the course and recommended UCEN Manchester to me, and it’s just perfect.

“The learning atmosphere is really good, and the smaller class sizes result in almost one to one teaching, which you can’t get anywhere else.”

Helping people has always been key for Agaja who spent 17 as a magistrate in Jamaica. The father-of-nine has had a range of professions including engineer, farm manager, miner, HGV driver and pilot of private jets.

He will now study the third year of the Criminology course and plans to complete his Masters before using his qualifications to work with the Probation service.   

Agaja said: “I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage people back into education, it’s the way to go.

“I’ve enjoyed the Criminology course, and I have real life experience in law and of criminal law which has made studying more relatable for me.

“I like having my family on the same course, as long as they’re doing something, that’s what’s important.”

Kaye Stephen, Criminology tutor, said: “Through Agaja's commitment, motivation and enthusiasm for this subject, members of his family have become inspired and consequently applied for the Criminology Programme at Openshaw.

“I think that inspiration has fed through the whole family, and I can only imagine that some of their conversations must make for interesting family academic debates about classical and contemporary criminology.

“As one student once said 'not only does UCEN impact and change the life of individuals but whole families as well'. Quite an accolade, I thought.”

Picture features Agaja Deenah (centre) with sons Najee Deenah and Tokiho Deenah, daughter Kamoe Deenah, and Criminology tutor Kaye Stephen. 

Find out more about studying Criminology and Criminal Justice at UCEN Manchester.