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Against All Odds Highly Commended - Sonita Zazai (Oldham Lifelong Learning) 

Designed to recognise learners who have overcome difficult personal circumstances in order to succeed in their studies, the ‘Against all Odds’ Aspiration Award is very special and always attracts a huge volume of nominations. This year’s ‘High Commended’ award was presented to Sonita Zazai, who studies the CACHE Level 1 Award in Preparing to Work in Schools at Oldham Lifelong Learning.  

Gaining confidence through learning  

As an Afghanistan Refugee, Sonita arrived in England unable to speak the language. Sonita had previously graduated from university with a Law Degree and education was very important to her, so she decided to learn English in order to contribute to society and support her family. Sonita began her journey at Oldham Lifelong Learning Service in 2017 where she joined the Skills for Employment project. This gave her the confidence and skills she needed to get back into studying after being a stay-at-home mother, raising her young children. 

A positive role model  

After completing qualifications in English and Maths, Sonita enrolled on a range of introductory courses on working with young children - she then progressed to CACHE Level 1 Award Preparing to Work in a School. During the pandemic, Sonita continued to study online, attending every class whilst home-schooling her 5 children aged between 3 and 13. Not content with this achievement, Sonita also enrolled onto Level 2 English and Maths courses, further highlighting her drive and determination to ensure she was accepted onto the Care, Vocation and Education Curriculum.  

“Sonita is a positive role model for her family and for members of her local community and is passionate about the importance of education to progressing into the workplace and giving back to the wider community.” explained Maria Clarkin, Sonita’s mentor.  

What did the CACHE qualification mean to Sonita? 

Studying at Oldham Lifelong Learning Service has had a significant impact on all areas of Sonita’s life, including the happiness of her children who have seen a huge change in their mum. Sonita commented: “Since starting my educational journey in England with Oldham Lifelong Learning, my self-confidence has grown, and I’ve seen a huge improvement in my mental health and wellbeing. By studying the CACHE qualification and completing my English and maths qualifications, I now have access to further training and a career that I didn’t think possible. Receiving the honour of being highly commended in the Aspiration Awards is an amazing achievement and I’m absolutely delighted.”