- Zhao Shunjin has just learned how to write her own name at the age of 100
- She has mastered about 100 Chinese characters
Beijing (CNN)It's never too late to learn, at least for this Chinese great grandmother.
Zhao Shunjin, from Hangzhou in eastern China, has just been taught how to write her own name at the ripe age of 100.
Her son, Luo Rongsheng, 70, told CNN that Zhao announced at a family dinner in June that she would like to learn how to read and write.
She has now mastered about 100 Chinese characters after taking an intensive 10-day literacy program held by her neighborhood committee, according to Luo. She spent two hours learning to read and write every day.
"My mother has never been to school her entire life," Luo said. "She is old and longsighted, but was so determined to learn this time."
Before she started the program, Luo taught Zhao to write her own name.
"I wrote down her name with a marker so that she could see it clearly. She was just sitting there and writing her name for an hour or so."
Luo said that his mother's illiteracy had haunted her since she was young.
A former vegetable vendor, Zhao once received a big order from a university in the 1950s. But she couldn't read, and there were only a few literate people in her village.
So she had to walk miles and miles to find someone to read the order for her, Luo said.
"She later said to me: 'I've suffered enough from illiteracy; I must get my children educated.'"
Nearly 80% of the country's population couldn't read or write when the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Official statistics show that the illiteracy rate had dropped to 4% by 2010.