November 22, 2017, was a day filled with anxiety for all students who sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) final examination. There was a lot of skepticism about the authenticity of the just-released results and some stakeholders felt that the results were not credible. Most students felt they deserved better grades for a paper they would consider “fair”. The quagmire surrounding the date of release was mostly narrowed down to the mere fact that it was barely a fortnight since most students completed their last paper. Stakeholders would hence have deemed it impossible to mark, compile, audit and release the examinations within such a short span. There it was! Finally, the results were out and candidates could access their individual grades through sending short coded messages to a semi-automated system provided by the Ministry of Education.
The political shenanigans really played a major role in the drop in performance of most schools and our schools were indeed affected by this crisis. Most teachers felt last years’ performance did not mirror the hard work and commitment they had put towards ensuring that all their mean scores improved. However, just like in any race there are definitely winners and losers and the victors did not shy off from celebrating their hard-earned results.
Picture a 13-year-old boy waking up at 5 a.m. to walk four kilometers to school for his personal preps before classes at 8 a.m. This is the kind of resilience and sacrifice Timothy Mugo had to go through in order to pass his primary school examination. Timothy from Shalom Primary School beat all the odds within his environs and still managed to come out victorious attaining a B grade and evenly distributing his grades within the five subjects he had undertaken.
Timothy is the last born in a family of seven children (three brothers and three sisters). He seemed to have vivid memories of his father who passed on a couple of years earlier. His widowed mother was rendered handicapped, after she survived a motorcycle accident.
Timothy could not recall the time he joined Giwa farm, as he was too young by the time the post-election violence took place (around three years old). Timothy was often tasked with the responsibility of cooking for his siblings in the evenings. He would also attend to his mother’s goats before embarking on night studies, which often ended at midnight. He noted that he was a big fan of mathematics and really found great mentorship from Mr. Muiruri who was also the schools’ principal. He was also keen to note that his mother had in the past helped him by providing storybooks and novels, which is something he really enjoyed during his leisure time. He also noted that some of the challenges he faced involved the lack of electricity within the primary school, causing him to often postpone his studies before the sun came up.
Having finished his primary education, Timothy has had the privilege of joining Springs Secondary School. He has aspirations of becoming an engineer in the future and assured me that he would continue with the same commitment instilled in his earlier years to ensure he attained the best grades at the end of his four years at Springs Secondary School.
Ken Mbugua was also another success story from Springs Secondary School with his national examination. The last born in a family of five, Ken’s story was one of great sacrifice, commitment and hard work. One of the best students at Springs High School, he mentioned that he had keen interest in pursuing a nursing course. This was driven by the need to provide better health care to his surrounding communities in the future.
His morning started as early as 2.30 a.m. whereby he would often walk to school for his morning preps before the daily routine classes. He would later on prolong his preps after school hours and head back home at 11 p.m., while a typical teenager would engage in extracurricular activities during weekends. Ken would often deny himself that privilege and take in various minimum wage jobs such as weeding in order to increase his savings that he would later use in the purchase of books. He admits to being a big fan of physics and biology and really admired both teachers, Mr. Kibet and Mr. Gichini (who was also his class teacher) who taught the subjects respectively.
Teachers were full of praise for Ken and would often regard him as a well-disciplined, attentive and hardworking student. Ken admitted that he had lots of challenges when it came to the payment of school fees and would be often sent home. His Mother would often be forced to come to the school in order to plead her case on fees payments with the principal. Ken noted that the new laboratory put in place the previous year (courtesy of World Teacher Aid), had tremendously helped in the improvement of his science grades. Ken overlooked the challenges he faced and was able to use the facilities around him to achieve success in his studies.
Although last year’s results were far-fetched and did not reflect the true picture of the kind of efforts our teachers had put forth with their students, we have a lot of hope for this year. Teachers from our respective schools have often organized impromptu meetings with the aim of uplifting their schools’ mean scores. At World Teacher Aid, we have clearly laid-out plans in making our school environments more productive and the best in the country. All in all, we will never forget the mere fact that examinations and grades will always be temporary but education is permanent.